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Scott Shephard, who calls himself a reformed racist after over 20 years of membership in four different Ku Klux Klan groups, including the White Citizen's Council of the rural Mississippi Delta, recounts his own tale, "Over the years I was in the Klan, I participated in lots of rallies and intimidation. There were cross burnings on peoples' yards, or on public property, and lots of beatings. I witnessed many, and kinda encouraged some. But I didn't get involved with any violent activities. There's no other way to put it."
Shephard eventually rose to become the Grand Dragon – the Klan leader – of the Tennessee state Klan, running for elected office as a white supremacist, before leaving that life after going into alcohol rehabilitation, where he said he "was exposed to people of all races, religions, sexual preferences. We had to sit down with these people. When you get to know people, you accept them.
"I went in one person, and I came out another."
Today, at 55 years of age, Shephard is a funeral director and embalmer in suburban Memphis and is twice-divorced. He said he became involved with the Klan at 17, and although he insists he did not come from a racist family, "it was an alcoholic family. There was violence and abuse in my family that set some roots to my story."
The Ku Klux Klan. It's a sordid and embarrassing chapter in our nation's history, a remnant of the Civil War, and a legacy of racial profiling, terror and intimidation. It continued into the 20th century as northern industry moved to integrate factories and businesses, threatening the livelihoods and way of life for those filled with fear and hate.
Yet, in the early years of the 21st century, with an African American president, years of economic turmoil followed by static growth and lingering unemployment and underemployment, along with the hot button social issues of gay marriage, immigration turmoil, abortion and gun control, Ku Klux Klan groups have quietly re-emerged, and not only in the south, where Shepherd lives. Although local law enforcement agencies assert there have been no incidents or activities affiliated with the Klan, numerous websites and the Anti-Defamation League, Michigan Region, reveal that the Klan has rebounded, although certainly not to their historic levels.
Desperate for publicity, and always eager to spread hate and terror, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the North Carolina-based New Emperor Knights of the Ku Klux Klan says its Missouri chapter is raising money for the white police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri....continued on page 2