Happy Halloween…I Guess
UNF students were recently blindsided when they learned a fellow political science major, Ken Parker, belonged to the KKK as a “grand dragon”. Upon discovering Parker’s identity, one student is calling for UNF to expel Parker, who has reportedly left the KKK for the Neo-Nazi Nationalist Socialist movement. Parker has previously been profiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center and local publications. He hasn’t exactly been low key so it’s interesting UNF would not have been aware of his white supremacist views prior to his admission to the school. As a lifelong southerner and resident of north Florida I’m not the least bit surprised by white supremacists being a classmate, a next door neighbor or even a patient. Apparently, the younger generation is. They have a lot to learn.
Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan expanded into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a channel for white resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies directed at establishing political and economic equality for African-Americans. The KKK executed an underground campaign of intimidation and violence directed at white and African-American Republican leaders. Further, the civil rights movement of the 1960s also saw a resurgence of Ku Klux Klan activity, which included bombings of African-American schools, churches and violence against African-American and white activists in the South.
In debating Parker’s right to enroll in college and obtain a degree, there are those who state being a KKK member is an aspect of free speech and he has a right to an education as long as he isn’t bothering anyone. If Parker were a member of ISIS would we consider his membership an aspect of free speech? Would anyone defend Parker’s right to attend classes at UNF as long as he wasn’t bothering anybody? I highly doubt this. There is no difference in the KKK or ISIS except skin color-both are terrorist organizations, both promote religious violence and are responsible for a number of deaths. This is what Parker and people like him represent to me-violence and death. This should matter. Emmett Till, four black school girls, Medgar Evers, Viola Luizzo…they all still matter to me. In late 2016, three people in Anaheim, California were stabbed by KKK members and their supporters for protesting their rally.
I have relative who currently attends UNF, so I will be monitoring this situation. College campuses aren’t the safest places for young people as it is and this situation certainly doesn’t ease my anxiety. Now, that UNF is aware of Mr. Parker’s affiliation, I hope they do realize, it is now their resonsibility to keep a close eye on him. Lastly, rest assure if there is any racial violence going forward with a very active white supremacist on campus, UNF will be held accountable by the local community.