June 12th, 2012
08:41 PM ET

A kinder, gentler Ku Klux Klan? 'We do not hate anyone,' imperial wizard says

by Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) –“All we wanna do is adopt a highway,” said April Chambers, secretary of the  North Georgia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. “We're not doing it for publicity. We're doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road ... that ain't right."

For many Americans, the Ku Klux Klan has been a symbol for terrorism, racism and evil in America, synonymous with burning crosses, lynchings and hooded men.

Even today, the name evokes vociferous discussion about the rights of a local group to adopt a highway in North Georgia, which was recently denied.

Overheard on CNN.com: Reader 'feeling a bit dirty' for agreeing with KKK on litter pickup

But is the latest effort to adopt a highway an introduction of a new era of a kinder, gentler Klan or merely an effort to gain attention? After more than a century and a half, what is the Ku Klux Klan today?

"We're not racists," Chambers told CNN Monday. "We just want to be with white people. If that's a crime, then I don't know. It's all right to be black and Latino and proud, but you can't be white and proud. I don't understand it."

Harley Hanson, who filed the application to adopt the highway for the International Keystone Knights Realm of Georgia, concurred:  “I love my race. Does that make me wrong? I’m proud to be white,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia official: KKK won't be allowed to 'adopt' highway

Today, when speaking to leaders of the Klan, you won't hear racial epithets or a denunciation of any ethnic groups.

"We do not hate anyone,” said Frank Ancona, the imperial wizard of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. “The true Ku Klux Klan is an organization that is looking out for the interests of the white race. It is a fraternal organization, and we do good works.”

Ancona's words are a contrast to criminal acts historically associated with the Klan - a divergence from intimidating images of hooded figures with lit crosses cutting through a dark night.

"We look out for the interest of our family first, I feel that other races feel the same way - it's a natural instinct, " he adds.

After all, who can argue with anyone about taking care of one's loved ones or cleaning up a national highway?

"These groups are interested in the press they know they are going to get off this - it doesn’t have anything to do with improving the world," said Mark Potok, editor in chief of the Intelligence Report, which tracks hate groups and extremists for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Potok concludes that it is not a kinder, gentler Ku Klux Klan but merely a sign of the times.

“Even the Klan recognizes there is no way that they can recreate America as an all-white country,” he said.

The group began as a fraternal organization, founded by Confederate veterans after the Civil War. At its height, Ku Klux Klan members were politicians, advertising gurus, journalists, businessmen and women with powerful political and social influence.  In the 1920s, membership swelled to 4 million to 5  million, fueled in part by the popularity of  "A Birth of a Nation," a 1915 silent film that extolled the virtues of the Klan.  The civil rights era witnessed a resurgence of the group, and it still exists today with 4,000 to  5,000 members nationally.

"I wonder why they characterize us as a hate group? Who do we hate?"  Ancona said. "I know what the perception is; people come up to us and they hate us."

When speaking to him via phone, Ancona insists that there is a not a "rebranding" of the KKK.  Instead, there is a focus on the original values of the Klan that have been distorted by "rogue" members and a mischaracterization by media.

"We are doing all we can to dispel the negative images," said Ancona. "If we find out one of our members was charged with a crime, or immoral behavior, we might give them a warning first, but we try to keep a tight eye on that. We have a thorough screening process to weed out troublemakers. I can only speak for the Traditional Knights, but none of our members are criminals."

Ancona sends out Twitter messages, has a modest following and speaks earnestly about the traditions of the Klan.  He speaks with special conviction when talking about the standard by which he strives to live.

"Jesus Christ is our criteria of character. If you look at Romans 12:1-2,  that is how Klans are  supposed to live, that is the standard, " he explained. "We do not burn the cross, we light the cross to show that Christ is the light of the world."

When pressed for how historical killings intersect with with Christian teachings of loving one another, he answers that the criticism the group faces is similar to the contempt directed at his example.

"We do this even though we know we will be hated and scorned, we sacrifice and serve for what's right - to uphold the principle that were taught by Jesus Christ of Nazareth and ensure that we give our children and their grandchildren America we had."

An independent contractor, Ancona says he is not paid for his work leading the Midwest chapter. He does the work "because I feel that I am doing something good for my fellow man."

He believes there is nothing hateful in the Klan bylaws and contends that while the organization has had  "a dark past," it is not dissimilar to that of the action of some priests actions in the Catholic Church  or a producer cutting misleading clips in on a story about George Zimmerman: you don't judge the whole for a few bad parts.

"I would want people to know that we are here, and we are not to be feared. The Klan is looking out for the white race, to preserve our rights and our history. The Klan looks out for America as our forefathers did."

Mark Pitcavage, the director of investigative research for the Anti-Defamation League, characterizes Ancona's group as "sort of the big dog" of the Ku Klux Klan now.

Pitcavage is a former military historian who began researching militia minutemen and later right-wing extremism.  He characterizes the  Klan as "group of hard-core white supremacists that are motivated by a belief that the white race is in danger of extinction."

He says white supremacy is composed of  five main movements: Neo-Nazis, traditional white supremacist groups, racist skinheads, racist prison gangs and Christian Identity, whose religious adherents believe they are descended from lost tribes of Israel.

The current Klan is not one cohesive group, and is considered one of the traditional white supremacist groups, which emerged in the the civil rights era.

"The situation that existed in the 1950s and '60s simply does not exist. The white supremacists are no longer in charge. They are now fighting for the very survival of the white race, and they have to fight to protect," said Pitcavage. "This is a fundamental difference of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s and today in the 21st century.”

In the past 60 years, several chapters of the Klan have made efforts to be involved in more civic-minded projects, such as adopting highways.

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan - the Arkansas group that David Duke once led - tried doing it. There was also a group in Missouri  that won a lawsuit to adopt a highway, and most recently, the North Georgia group that was denied the permit.

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Filed under: History • Race • Who we are
soundoff (1,759 Responses)
  1. T

    "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
    If Klan members are supposed to follow the teachings of the Bible, maybe they should find another organization. All racial pride groups (KKK, Black Panthers, etc. ) do is create barriers between people where there shouldn't be any.

    April 3, 2013 at 2:56 am | Report abuse |

    Sounds just like all the blacks today who work in the media. There is a war against white people. Oppose the enemy and do not turn on each other like they did in Iraq. All mass murders are caused by a cancerous parasite controlling a majority from jews in 2 European world wars to the USA being in Iraq to Israel existing in the Middle East to blacks causing the Civil War. All these wars were caused by jews and blacks or a cancerous minority being where it should not be creating hate in a country that turns on itself.

    / At its height, Ku Klux Klan members were politicians, advertising gurus, journalists, businessmen and women with powerful political and social influence."

    December 3, 2012 at 3:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. AlphaMan

    The United States of America is not, nor has ever been a "white" country as nonwhites were here first. Also, genocide is the systematic and FORCEFUL destruction or elimination of a specific ethnicity, race, religion, etc. The key word is FORCEFUL. If the "white" race is indeed being eliminated, it is not by force. No one is forcing whites and nonwhites to mate. That is a choice made by the individuals.

    November 12, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • savethechildren

      Bio-archaeology has established that Whites were in N Am 10,000 yrs or so before the Asians.
      So, since your history is false, what is your purpose in expressing such anti-white feelings?
      The point is we have an ongoing genocide of the White race. Pro-whites are fighting this human rights violation. You are opposing that work.
      That makes you anti-white. Are you proud of that or might you want to join us in our work to stop White genocide?
      Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.

      November 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
      • Veronica

        Bio-archaeology? Do you have evidence of this or did someone drill this into your head too, and you just follow along like a sheep to the slaughter

        July 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • savethechildren

      Dogmatic assertion of an anti-white

      February 2, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Forcing children to another group is apart of the UN Law of prevention of genocide btw, we're forced to be diverse and have no say about it, yet they do not so much as lift a finger to make the Detroit city council more diverse, to them full color is diverse, diversity is white genocide.

      February 14, 2013 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jennifer

    I grew up in Georgia.. My Grandfather was a 'Good ol boy' from Ceder town GA. He hung around with Herman Talmadge and a few other greats! My Grandfather was never a member of the Klan, but he had friends who were and as a little girl they were my friends also. i have loved all people with out prejudice and i have tried to raise my White sons that way.
    BUT! I am sad to say that we are in trouble if we are White, male, Christian! I don't actually think we are racist,, from what I'v experienced, the black man is! We are under attack for our skin color now! They are not! I can't say i agree with the Klan on every level, but, for the first time in this country, I'm afraid for my White, male children ! We must organize with out the hate! We have been forced into this. We have a president that is very racist and now that he's in power again, the prejudice against, White, Christian, Males will worsen. I'm sad to be writing this.

    November 7, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
    • O L Jackson

      I'm a brother from Miami,FL and I don't see nothing wrong with you being "white and proud".That's your prerogative and I have no argument about that not even dismissing the history of the Klan and to Blacks and Latinos as well as Whites.However not everyone isn't like that

      December 3, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. savethechildren

    You are just making a psychopaths argument in favor of White genocide, that is, that there is no White race, so the extinction of the White race by various means is not genocide. So silly for the UN to hold and write the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. Just a bunch of deluded people I guess.
    When we have: Africa for Africans, Asia for Asians, White Countries for Everybody, what do we have overtime?

    We have more and more non-whites in White countries since the right of Whites to exclusive territory is denied them.

    We have fewer and fewer White people.

    When we mix more non-whites and fewer Whites in the same living space, what do we get?

    In time, White extinction. Its called White genocide because this does not happen by chance. It is being forced upon Whites just like a rapist does not take no for an answer.

    How is this not so? How is this not White genocide?

    Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.

    September 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ling

    Please explain to me what "THE WHITE RACE" is exactly?

    September 27, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. allyrunning4ever

    I am really surprised that the kkk. However at the same time I am not. Even if everyone was the same color people would find something to hate about the somebody or people either their personalities, looks beliefs whatever. Race is not the problem its humans "sinful" nature that is. People will always treat others wrongly its sad but its true that's why this world is so full of corruption. Some people might think that they have never been racist but I bet anything that they have been mean to someone different than them.

    September 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matt in Oregon

    To anyone who really believes that the KKK are not a hate group all I have to say is that I have a bridge to sell you. Real cheap!

    August 7, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MissouriBoy

    Could someone define "white" for me? If you are Italian, I guess you are white. What if you are from Greece, right next door to Italy? Are you white by the white-only definition? Some Greeks are pretty dark skinned. What about Turkey? It is very close to Greece. Are you still white if you are from Turkey? Which if the ex-Soviet Union countries are white, and which are consider "Arab" by the KKK?

    I guess the new KKK needs to come up with a map or guide book that lets us know which "nationalities" are considered white. Truth is, over 1/2 the KKK members today probably have some non-white blood in their backgrounds. They just don't know it. The whole concept of a "pure race" is non-sense. There is no such thing.

    August 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. silentseekerr

    You hit the nail on the head nikki. Great post!

    July 6, 2012 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. lolita

    let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

    June 23, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lexs

    let's all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

    June 23, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. savethechildren

    Don't forget that right wing movements are heavily manned by govt agents. I wouldn't want to judge anything that is controlled and/or manipulated by govt forces. False flags and all that stuff. But for those who want the occasion to blame white people, KKK and others serve as a useful strawman and scapegoat.

    June 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guy123

    I in no way align myself with these fools and could really care less about all this racial pride and ethnic nonsense on either side of the house whether you are white or you are a minority. In the past 20yrs of this country's history however it has become evident that being "white" is a bad thing while being loud obnoxious or aggressive about being something else is "good" and "just". I cannot understand this. Yes minorities have suffered at the hands of white peoples a long time ago. That is over now but people feel the need to continue to drudge up the past or create and ongoing idea of oppression especially young people who themselves have never suffered at the hands of violent racism nor did their parents. And before any of you go and start making claims that I am some sort of racist I would just like to say I have been happily married to a minority for over 6yrs now and I am white. Everyone needs to stop with the nonsense and come together. When people "identify" themselves as separate or "special" from all others they are the racists. When they want to have their own college, or their own magazine, or their own holiday they are the racists, minority or white.

    June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nickle Plate

    one race-the human race

    June 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • That Guy

      I think you are just about the only intelligent person here.

      June 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  16. hypatia

    Yeah sure and I've got them some bridge property in Arizona. What a bunch of hypocritical manure!

    June 19, 2012 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  17. Do some research

    No other groups you'v mentioned had a consistent history of killing, raping, hanging people on a tree, or dragging people behind a car. Heck, this country used to discriminate against Irish. For what? Not being white enough? Go figure.

    June 19, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  18. Comment

    The difference is that the NAACP, etc. don't have a history of killing people and leaders that have publically declared their hate for, and intent to wipe out, other races.

    June 19, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  19. Brekka

    Not agreeing with the KKK here, but if you look at society today you're encouraged to be proud of who you are, everyone that is except for whites. If you're black and proud, that's awesome. If you're Hispanic and proud, that's awesome. If you're white and proud, that's racist. Whites are quickly becoming the minority in this country, and any attempt to be proud of who we are is considered offensive and racist.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mas360

      Nothing wrong with proud of being white or any color. However, being proud of the KKK, which had an ugly and violent history, is mentally deranged and shall be treated as such.

      June 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • historygeek5

      For almost 400 years most whites in this country have been proud that they're superior, not proud of what they are. When exactly did that change.

      June 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • DBSaint

      Would be nice if any of the other responses addressed your question. That said, if white's had a pride day it would imply two things, first it would take away from the other groups sense of accomplishment and being special; second, it would imply that all groups are on equal footing, which weakens the arguement that minorities need special programs and treatment to accomplish those things that mainstream society considers valuable. I find it interesting of all the miniorities you don't see the Asian community need parades and pride days. They find pride in themselves and have out paced everyone in the US – kudos to them for taking on a victim mentality.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • DBSaint

        sorry for the typo. Should have been "...not taking on a victim mentality."

        June 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  20. mcskadittle

    don't forget the tea-party and ron paul

    June 18, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Tristen Cruz

    I would bet good money that there are plenty of KKK members who root for, attend, and help finance the Atlanta Falcons, Braves and Hawks. Aah, the irony.

    June 17, 2012 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  22. Kyne

    How you can be proud of something that isn't your achievement, that you had absolutely no influence on is beyond me. But maybe that's the point? To be proud of something that didn't require any effort of your own.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:40 am | Report abuse |
  23. Dandy

    We have the NAACP, scholarships for "African Americans"' Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpeton, etc., which is acceptable. But, you name one thing that pertains to whites "only" and it is called racists. Give me a friggin break. I was born in Texas to white parents. My father is British, my mother is South African. All my Mother's family for the past 300 years was born in South Africa. Let me make mention, my mothers family is white as white can be. Does this make me African American? Um...hell no. I am white, white, white by U.S. census and any application pertaining to race. I cannot claim African American without getting some serious looks and flak. I can even trace my ancestors to the Maasai.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  24. Unacceptable_behavior

    Prejudice is defined as "an unfounded hatred, fear, or mistrust of a person or group, especially one of a particular religion, ethnicity, nationality or social status."

    As a person who actually grow up in Tennessee during the late 50's and early 60's. My single parent mom born and raised in South Carolina during the great depression in the late 20's. I would hear the real life stories she experienced being in a community that lived with and talk prejudice each and every day. One event in her house was when a housekeeper they had for many years was working one day in the home. My mom wanted to use the indoor bathroom to clean up. She surprisingly found the women (she described as black as night), was taking a bath in he family tube (a very white one at that). This was unheard of and forbidden at that time and place. My mom had other stories living in such a vile climate. Some were actually happy memories with black kids she played with. See children are not born prejudice, they are taught or live with examples how others are treated (or mistreated).

    In these uncertain economic and socially divisive times, we adults must change our culture on person at a time. Starting with ourselves and then reaching out to others in our circle of influence.

    Be Brave and of Good Courage. We are still the "United States of America". Let us prove it to this and future generations we will change.

    "DO or DO NOT. There is no try." quote from Joda.

    Let us unite under a banner of "Equality is the absence of prejudice."

    June 14, 2012 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  25. HS132

    KKK is one of Americas Oldest Terrorist Organization...I dont understand why they are still allowed to function. They should be taken apart and arrested.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Rod

      As should all racial organizations and special interest groups. They only do one thing, seperate us from each other. There is definately a double standard in play. I would agree with the KKK spokesman on that topic.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  26. KKK schmayKK

    Same Klan, different day. IF they truly wish to be taken seriously, IF they really mean what they say about "not hating anyone", they they would be wise to "repackage" the group and separate themselves from the HISTORY of the KKK at all costs. There is no point in trying to white wash (sorry for the pun) the KKK's torrid history. Anything else and they will be fighting an uphill battle. But seriously, can anyone imagine that someone who belongs to the KKK DOESN'T hate others? What would be the point of joining that group otherwise? I don't have any qualms about "white pride", we should be able to express ourselves as much as all other walks of life are allowed, but PEOPLE!, let's get away from the KKK stigma if any of you want to be taken seriously. I'm white and to me, the KKK is an embarrassment to my culture; like Nazis to Germany, like extremists to Islam. I would not be able to give any credence to their claims of being "kinder and gentler".

    June 14, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  27. Mr Class

    It's the robe people! That KKK robe! It's the robe that reminds everyone what they represent! The same KKK robe worn in the 1800's is still worn in 2012! That is why people have a problem with this!

    June 14, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • DomesticTerroristsKKKMilitia

      Its not the robes , its the ORGANIZATION itself and what it truly stands for, the hatred of people of Ethnicity.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  28. Unacceptable_behavior


    June 14, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  29. Doug

    It is ok in the USA today to preach black pride, Or to have hats with Native Pride on them. But if anyone at all has pride in being a caucasian he is automatically a racist, hater who doesn't deserve to live. I'll be glad when the ultra liberal whites are the minority and see their reaction as they get their throats slit for 20 bucks and / or their ipad. I won't be alive, and I am glad. Have fun in your third world ghetto, fools.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Madrep

      Exactly! Thanks for sharing.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
    • jacobsart

      Native American, Latino, or Black pride groups would indeed be considered hateful if they claimed to be "glad" when certain people died. While white pride generally is disdained in our country, it is very common and accepted for people to be proud of being Irish, Norwegian, Swedish, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, or any number of other light-skinned ethnicities. The question is, when you are proud of being white, what are you proud of? The question is, are you oppressive of others? I personally am not proud per se of being white, but I'm certainly not ashamed. I don't see any sort of spectacular white heritage or unification. I had no ancestors in slavery. I'm not being accused of being illegally in the country. I wasn't forced out by colonists. No one is telling me "go back where you came from." People with my skin color are abundant on TV and in magazines.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      Not really. We have Irish pride days, Italian Heritage days, etc. Our history in classrooms across the country is still taught almost totally focused on accomplishments of white men. I'm not sure your complaint. Someone once complained about black history month and asked when white history month was. Well, that would be the other 11 months of the year. I'm proud of who I am and I'm white but I"m the idea of being in a white pride group is frankly sickening. Go be proud of yourself or your ethnicity or religion or something do do with who you are. You are not a member of some group that has been historically oppressed. That is the big difference.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • silentseeker1

      That is so not true. I believe that everyone sould take pride in their culture but shold also respect others as well. I am an African American female and I do not care about the color of a person skin because I believe in one race.....THE HUMANE RACE. Be careful with your thoughts, because what you think becomes what you say. Being mindful of your words, because your thoughts and words influence your actions. Start being reflective and serious about your actions, because your actions become your habits. Always striving to do more good than you have in the past, because good deeds develop habits that develop character.

      June 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
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