The NAACP and Ku Klux Klan have a long history of meetings. They are usually public and sometimes the confrontations are violent, reminiscent of one I witnessed at the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.
Now, for perhaps the first time, leaders representing the “historic enemies” have met privately, reports the Casper Star-Tribune in Wyoming.
The result? A KKK organizer who thinks Georgia should secede (again) and become a nation of blacks paid to join the NAACP.
Why would the NAACP, which promotes racial harmony want to meet with the Klan, which promotes fear, hatred and bigotry?
Jimmy Simmons, president of the NAACP chapter in Casper, Wyoming, had heard reports of black men in his area being beaten. These men were with white women when the attacks occurred and Klan literature had began showing up around town at about the same time.
Initially, Simmons thought the NAACP should hold a rally to attract police attention to the beatings, but then he tried something completely different.
He wrote a letter to the KKK and asked for a face-to-face meeting.
He didn’t expect a response, but United Klans of America organizer John Abarr agreed to meet with Simmons under heavy security.
The Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America, Bradley Jenkins, who lives in Alabama, was excited Abarr was meeting with the NAACP and had to overrule the Imperial Council so the meeting could take place, Abarr said. Jenkins, according to Abarr, would like to meet with NAACP members in Alabama.
During his meeting with the NAACP in Wyoming, Abarr tried to downplay his organization’s violent past. He called the recent attacks on black men “hate crimes” and said police should do something to stop them.
He said the attacks were not organized by his organization, but admitted the Klan is fractured and it could be the work of another group.
Abarr also said there’s no evidence the modern Klan is violent.
By this point, the NAACP representatives thought Abarr was delusional but kept asking questions. This was a chance to see how a Klansman thinks, after all.
Here’s some info the NAACP wheedled out of Abarr:
Abarr says he likes being in the KKK “because you wear robes, and get out and light crosses, and have secret handshakes. … I sort of like it that people think I’m some sort of outlaw.”
At the end of the meeting, the sorta outlaw paid $30 to join the NAACP and made a $20 donation. Then, his security team whisked him away to a place without so many annoying questions.
Here’s some more links you may find informative or entertaining or both: