The Klan Unmasked
Publication Year: 2011
Stetson Kennedy’s infiltration and exposure of the KKK.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Preface: KKK Book Stands Up to Claim of Falsehood
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At ninety-three, his health failing, most of his old friends and lovers long gone, Stetson Kennedy occasionally complains that he has lived too long. But it could be argued he has lived just long enough. Long enough to have passed from pariah to hero, from obscurity to fame. Once "the most hated man in North Florida," to quote what a Florida professor told the St. Petersburg Times, Kennedy has become one of the most honored. Like a figure out of the folklore...
Introduction: Superman Busts the KKK
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I welcome the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite writers and civil rights activists, Stetson "Stet" Kennedy. In the 1930s he was Director of Folklore, Oral History, and Ethnic Studies for the Florida Federal Writers' Project. One of his colleagues was Zora II, but because of a back injury, Kennedy was unable to join the...
Stetson's Side of the Story
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As noted in the introduction to this edition, The Klan Unmasked has seen its share of controversy. As the reader will see in the undercover agent "Bob," for risking his life in gathering some of life and the safety of his family. During the writing, I was safe in Paris, while he was still living in the Klan's Imperial City, ...
1. The Fiery Summons
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I AWOKE with a start, my hand already instinctively reaching for the '32 automatic I kept under my pillow. No sooner did I have the comforting cool steel in hand than I became aware that the ringing of a bell had awakened me. It was dark, and my first thought was that the alarm clock must have gone off ahead of schedule. Cursing under my breath, ...
2. Why I Joined the Klan
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I DIDN'T get much sleep the rest of that night. Instead, I lay there in bed thinking about some of the things that had led to my joining the Klan and getting into such a hot spot .... I remembered how as a kid my first knowledge of the Klan came when I discovered my Uncle Brady Perkins' flowing white robe and mask tucked away in a closet. I slipped the...
3. Before the Altar of Hate
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I WAS there, a half-hour ahead of time. The station where I had been ordered to take my stand was at Five Points, the busiest intersection in Atlanta, and the rush hour was already beginning. Why the Klan had chosen such a spot for a rendezvous was beyond me. As I stood there scanning the faces of the people who...
4. The Way of the Klavern
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...I resolved to keep my identity secret as long as possible, to gather all the evidence I could, and to put that evidence to the best possible use. During the week that intervened between my initiation and first meeting I acquired a robe. "I think I can save you five bucks on your robe," Slim said. "There was a Brother banished last month, and he was ordered to turn in his robe. I'm pretty sure I can get it...
5. Operation Anti-Klan
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"YOU'VE what?" exploded my old friend Charlie Pike, Southern director of one of the big unions. "I've just joined the Klan," I repeated, handing him my membership Kard for inspection. "What's the big idea?" he demanded. "I always considered you a union man from the ground up." "That's one of the big reasons I've joined the Klan," I hastened to explain. "I know the Klan has been giving the...
6. I Work My Way Into the Flog Squad
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...At the bottom of the card there was a crude skull, with two curved cavalry swords as crossbones. It was signed "Brothers of the Sword." I've been discovered, and this is the Klan's way of inviting me to my own funeral, I thought. There would be a mock trial in the Inner Den, followed by a mock burial symbolizing my banishment as a citizen of the Invisible...
7. The Klavaliers Ride to a Fall
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"THIS job for tonight is a cinch," Carter declared. "As y'all know, there's a law against coloured cab-drivers carrying white folks. But near 'bout every week we get reports that the law ain't being enforced. When the law fails, it's time for the Klan to step in.... " He paused, and there was a supercharged silence in the den as the Klavaliers waited for their briefing to...
8. Juvenile Delinquents of the KKK
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...The Confederate banner is by no means an uncommon sight in the South. In fact, the United Daughters of the Confederacy encourage its display on every possible occasion. But this was no ordinary Confederate flag. Superimposed on its centre was a large circle containing a thunderbolt! Painted on the window itself, I read: ...
9. Assorted Nuts
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THAT night as I approached the Exposition Mill Village I could hear, from several blocks away, the phonographic blaring of the "Confederate national anthem," Dixie, together with Hail, Columbia, as the Columbians turned the amplifiers on their sound-truck up to full volume. Attracted by the prospect of any free and lively affair, the textile workers had turned out in numbers, and were waiting...
10. In Daniel's Den
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...to proclaim that the Columbians were coming to "challenge Dan Duke's racial views" in a public meeting on the courthouse lawn of his own town. " Let 'em come!" Duke barked when I told him the news. "I'll grant 'em free speech and even light up the courthouse square for the occasion! I know how to handle these brats! They'll get a reception they won't soon forget!"...
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A FEW days later the Columbians were sitting around their own den, licking the wounds they had sustained in Daniel's den, when a riot call came in. "Just stand your ground!" Loomis bellowed excitedly into the phone. "Don't budge an inch! Stand on the nigger's doorstep, and if he tries to move in, tell him he'll be blown out! Stir up all the white people in sight! Ira...
12. The Wool-Hat Putsch
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I WAS walking along Atlanta's famed Peachtree Street when I came upon a small gathering of people on the sidewalk, listening intently to a news broadcast coming from a radio shop. Obviously, it was big news. "What's up?" I asked one of the bystanders. "Ole Gene's dead," he replied, with a face as forlorn as a long-eared coon dog. "Dead?" I repeated, rightly or wrongly feeling much the...
13. Bigotry Before the Bar
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BACKFIRE! That was the only word to describe what had happened to the Columbians' sixty days of grace. They had asked for the postponement with a view to being brought to trial under a friendly Talmadge administration, but fate had intervened to take Old Gene from them, and now the courts had deprived them of their last hope, Hummon. The hostile atmosphere generated by the...
14. Tri-K Round-Up
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...thought of my days as investigator inside the Klan. So I set out on a cross-country lecture tour to tell people of the things I had seen and heard inside the Klaverns, in the hope of broadening the counter-Klan campaign. I spoke to hundreds of meetings sponsored by labour unions, churches and synagogues, Young Men's Christian Associations, the N.A.A.C.P., Anti-Defamation League of...
15. Meeting in Macon
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...Some months had passed, and I had resumed my lecturing in the New York area. Meanwhile, I had succeeded in finding someone to take my place inside the Klan, and I knew a call from Atlanta could only mean that the Klan was planning something devilish. Of course "Bob" was not the real name of my pipeline into the Klaverns. He...
16. Terror in Miami
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By this time I was beginning to experience more than a little battle fatigue from my struggles against the Klan. Although I was tempted to settle in some quiet New England countryside, far from the marauding Kluxers, I chose instead to go back down South and settle in the heart of the Klan's Invisible Empire. My father had died, leaving me a small tract of land at Switzerland, Florida, about...
17. Night Ride in Sunny Florida
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I HAD no sooner returned home after investigating the terror in Miami when the news of another atrocity in south Florida sent me packing again. In fact, my wife scarcely had time to launder my Klan robe. The account given by the radio announcer was cryptic in its brevity. "Last night two Negro prisoners were shot by Sheriff Willis McCall of Lake County when they attempted to...
18. Investigating the Investigators
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THE morning after this whitewashing (by an all-white jury after listening to an all-white parade of witnesses before an all-white audience), Eustis looked like a town that had had its face lifted. The streets thronged with white folks in a holiday spirit. Negroes, however, were still conspicuous by their absence. I spotted Inspector Elliott going into his room at the...
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...This challenge, signed by the Wizard himself, appeared in the KKK's official paper The Klansman, published at Jacksonville, just eighteen miles from my home at Beluthahatchee. In addition, the Wizard hinted that the Klokann had at last tracked me down and knew where I was living, and the Klan would soon settle accounts with me. There was just enough detail in the story to...
Kluxed Again? (1990)
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MY REWARD for the decade I spent as a counterterrorist agent in the unclean racist underworld came one night after I had spoken to the Dallas branch of the NAACP. Among those gathered around was a little girl about five years old, who gave me a big hug around the knees and looked up and said, "I know what you do...
How to Kan the Klan: A Handbook for Counterterrorist Action (1990)
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THE QUESTION "What can we do about the Klan and other organized hate groups?" is frequently heard from readers and audiences. Drew Pearson, predecessor to Washington columnist Jack Anderson, once generously labeled me "the nation's number one Klan-buster." To justify the title further, I drew up a ten-point program called "How to Kan the Klan," which civil rights and labor groups distributed widely. Governors Ellis...
Publication Year: 2011