KKK meets with NAACP: A publicity stunt or a powerful statement?

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John Abarr, left, a kleagle of the United Klans of America, out of Great Falls, Mont., and Jimmy Simmons, center, president of the NAACP’s Casper branch, arrive for a meeting Saturday night, Aug. 31, 2013, at the Parkway Plaza hotel in Casper, Wyo. Simmons spent several months attempting to organize the meeting due to concerns about reports of violence against black men and Ku Klux Klan pamphleting in Gillette, Wyo. The gathering, which took place in private under heavy security, was the first formal meeting between Klan and NAACP representatives that either side was aware of. (AP Photo/Casper Star-Tribune, Alan Rogers, File)

Aside from the national media attention, what constructive outcomes/conversations can come from the recent sit–down between Jimmy Simmons a representative of the NAACP – Casper, Wyoming chapter, and John Abarr, a ‘kleagle’ of the United Klans of America?

There might not be a discernible answer to this question.  Mr. Simmons requested the meeting after reports surfaced that KKK literature had been distributed in Gilette, Wyoming – some 130 miles away. That might seem far, but how many NAACP chapters are there in Wyoming?

The meeting itself produced little more than the spate of national and local news reports that covered it.

The two leaders convened at a hotel, under tight security and the most reportable outcome was that Mr. Abarr joined the NAACP Casper chapter and donated $20.  Mr. Simmons’ call for the meeting came in response to the circulation of the KKK’s signature hate pamphlets at a time where police officials in Gilette confirm that their have been some hate-related crimes of harassment and other reports of black men being beaten up.

Allegedly the United Klans of America have exchanged their traditionally violent brand of hatred for a fierce commitment to white pride and patriotism.  But according to their own site – which features a picture of Chris Lane, captioned:

“we are all Chris Lane” – the UKA “shall ever be true in the faithful maintenance of white supremacy.”

James Braxton Peterson is the Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University and an MSNBC contributor.

Read more from his article on The Grio

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