Saturday, December 22, 2012


When I was a child, I learned about the Ku Klux Klan from history books and older generations. I knew that it started in Pulaski, TN, but I had never thought much about the specific location. Until...

I met a woman who told me about a building her family owns. It is the building where the KKK actually originated. She told me there is a plaque on the front, but that they elected to turn it backwards. There is a second plaque that designates the building a historical location in Tennessee. I admit that I was fascinated that the building is still there. I guess I had just always assumed that the klan was organized in some dark basement, or that the building had been torn down. So, in classic A-Ro fashion, I asked J to take a little family field trip to Pulaski one weekend. I have always believed that travel (even if it's just 45 minutes to Pulaski) is one of the best ways to educate myself and my children. Ella is studying Alabama history this year, and the KKK is an unfortunate but necessary part of any Alabama history class. This field trip was not an adventure to encourage hate; please know that. This outing was meant to encourage tolerance and love for others.

The building was sort of as I expected it to be. Rather small. Mason work. An ordinary building with an extraordinary past.
The plaque to the left of the door is the one that mentions the KKK and is turned backwards. The owner told me that every now and then a group of tourists will ask to see it, so she will grab a wrench and turn it around.

I can understand why some people would be offended that the building is on the National Register of Historical Places given the hate and murderous ideas born inside, but I view it as a teaching landmark. Even in unassuming places, atrocious ideas can begin to grow. I want my children to learn from the mistakes of the past and not be easily engaged in group thinking.

Right here. This is where it started.

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The Ku Klux Klan is still around, but its numbers have been declining. Its story has not ended. The lessons to be learned from its history and origins are not declining, and the story will never end.