Robe and Ritual

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S1: This podcast contains language that some listeners might find offensive. Carlos Temple Junior was a great high school basketball player. A six foot eight center he dominated as a rebounder and an inside scorer. A bunch of big time colleges scouted. Temple his senior year.

S2: I was being recruited by the University of Kansas. I was mayor recruited by Nebraska, Oklahoma and by Colorado. And those were the teams that were recruiting black athletes from the South for the most part, even though he lived in Louisiana in a tiny rural town called Kentwood.


S1: Temple wasn’t expecting to hear from the state’s flagship university. It was 1970 and the LSU basketball team had never had a black player. Temple did eventually get invited to join the roster. The man who recruited him wasn’t from the admissions office or the athletic department.

S2: Phone was sitting in the kitchen. I happened to pick it up and I said hello. And then he said, this is go on a John Market. And I said, Oh, really? OK. I told my dad, this person on the phone says he’s the governor and he wants to talk to John McCain.

S1: Then told the temples that their son belonged at LSU. The governor said the times were changing and that college would be safe on campus in Baton Rouge. The Temple family saw this as a chance to make history and an invitation that was long overdue.


S2: But their attitude was, well, we all pay taxes so that Louisiana State University could be built. And it’s about time that we get a chance to participate in the educational opportunity because it’s the best school in the state.


S1: Carlos was 17 years old when he moved into the athlete’s dormitory. He lived with more than 100 young white men.

S2: There were tense times when I was around these guys because they weren’t feeling comfortable with me. And I knew that the majority of the guys weren’t necessarily instead may be in there. Some of my social outlet, candidly, in terms of who are communicated with the most were actually people who cleaned up the dorm that I live than the janitors and the people who cooked.


S1: Temple also spent time hanging out with other black undergrads at LSU Student Union. To get there, he had to walk past a campus hotspot.

S2: Free speech. YALLAH was just an identifiable area where people just got up and expressed how they felt. And people talked about some everything, all the social ills throughout this country.

S1: Students at free speech, Ali, spouted off about the dress code at LSU, which forbade women from wearing pants. They got fired up about President Nixon in the Vietnam War and they argued about civil rights. There was one student, David Duke, who was always shouting about the dangers of integration.

S2: He’d be out there talking about while Jews and niggers should not be a part of our society as basically what it came down to. And when he stop and listen and stop and listen and at Yale and tell him he was full of shit.


S3: In the first episode of our series, I talked about David Duke, the politician, and how he triumphed in Louisiana in 1989. In this episode, I’m going to start two decades earlier when Duke was figuring out who he wanted to become before he became America’s most prominent white supremacist. Duke was a campus rabble rouser standing on a soapbox at free speech alley. He claimed that whites were mentally superior to blacks. He said that Jews were traitors and he gave the Nazi salute.


S4: People you can’t not. Yeah, yeah, I see him. He was he was open about it.

S3: That’s Colly Joseph. He was a moderator at free speech, Ali, in the late 60s and early 70s. It was his job to watch the clock. He never told anyone to tone down their language or pick a different subject. No topic was off limits. And banning an individual student, even a Nazi, was totally out of the question.


S4: People would yell at the speaker. People would, you know, complain or hoot and holler. They didn’t like things. But he was given his opportunity because, you know, we had our motto is fair play. We have to give people a chance to speak.

S5: One afternoon in 1969, Joseph watched David Duke declare that whites were the master race.

S6: When Duke’s time was up, a black student got on the soapbox.

S7: He began making a case that everybody ever buys blood is the same or all the same. And we all believe the same blood. So he pulls out a knife and cut his finger. And then he begins to call out to David and tell him, David, come up to the box and you obviously want to cut his finger. I think he even a little face. You bleed. You and I just played the same.


S6: David Duke declined to join in on the bloodletting. He later said it meant nothing to him that all humans bleed the same color after all. Duke explained. Rats have red blood to.

S5: Long after he graduated from LSU, Duke loved to reminisce about free speech, Ali. Here he is in 1985.

S8: They had people hanging out about their pensions. They were totally awesome. They didn’t know what to do.


S9: They couldn’t leave.

S1: This guy’s his colleague Joseph recalls things differently.

S4: I don’t remember that David did. Are there any support anybody? He was not popular at free speech, Ali. And did that whole thing was intense. And then, I mean, he was beaten at hate. No doubt about it.


S1: The presence of a black athlete like Colace Temple at LSU was a marker of racial progress. David Duke was there to remind him that the opportunity he’d earned was provisional temple in his black classmates saw Duke as a threat, someone they needed to stand up to or shout down to solidify their place on campus. Most white students saw Duke as a curiosity or a repetitive bore. Duke’s performances at free speech Charlie, the LSU student newspaper said, always get back to a commie Jew plot by the black lovers of America against the good ole white folks. To spread his message, Duke needed a support system. He’d find one beyond free speech Ali. As a student at LSU, Duke wrote letters to the National Socialist White People’s Party, the group formerly known as the American Nazi Party. These Nazis invited Duke to their annual conference in Virginia and suggested that he carpool with two other white supremacists. Here’s the author, Eli Saslow.


S10: One of them was about his age. A guy named Joseph Paul Franklin. The other was about two or three years younger. A guy named Don Black. And they piled into this car and started driving, you know, at 800 miles up the highway. And over the course of those hours, these three kids became really close.

S1: Duke, Franklin and Black eight pretzels. Listen to Southern Rock and talked about the biological superiority of the white race. At that conference in Virginia, they met hundreds more people who shared their beliefs. They came away from this Nazi get together, feeling less alone and more resolute.


S10: They not only saw that their ideas were widely spread, they saw that it was possible to have their ideas and live a successful life in this country. And I think that that’s something that they all took back to Louisiana with them.


S1: David Duke and his two new friends had a shared white nationalist ideology, but different visions of how to spread it.

S5: Don Black would eventually create Stormfront, the largest online gathering place for racists. Joseph Paul Franklin would take it upon himself to instigate a race war going on a three year killing spree before getting captured by police. The third man in that car dreamed of becoming the National Front man for white supremacy. The charismatic leader who’d bring racism to the masses to become a star. David Duke would need to get on bigger stages than free speech, Ali. And he’d have to law and new and different followers. That meant he needed a new brand. Before he even graduated from LSU, he found one.


S11: If you’ve never seen a member of the KKK with the hood all, you’ll get your chances. We introduced Mr. David Duke of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan on the tomorrow program continues after this.

S12: How did David Duke use the Ku Klux Klan to sell his message and himself? How did he turn black progress into a rallying cry for disaffected white people? And why did he leave the Klan behind? This is Slow Burn. I’m Josh Levine. Episode two, Robe and Ritual.

S1: I used to think the Ku Klux Klan was a single fixed organization. In reality, it’s more like a virtual an American meme, a shifting collection of symbols and ideas that’s been passed on from one generation of bigots to the next. The first Ku Klux Klan arose after the Civil War, when white vigilantes in masks and robes terrorized and murdered black freed men and women, that KKK was broken up by massive federal intervention. The second clan was something closer to a political party. It drew in millions of white Protestants all over the country in the 1920s. And it was animated by hatred, not only of blacks, but also Catholics, Jews and immigrants.


S5: It fizzled out around 1930, in part because Klan violence gave the group a bad reputation and polite white society. The third KKK came into existence during David Duke’s childhood. It was a murderous backlash to the gains made by black Americans in the 1950s and 60s.

S13: They died in Birmingham at the 16th Street Baptist Church, rallying point of the Negro drive in the nation’s most segregated big city. Dynamite exploded on a Sunday morning, killed four little girls in Sunday school, injured 20 other Negroes.

S14: This is an earthen dam, a temporary grave of three civil rights workers, two white, one Negro, beaten and shot to death. Among those indicted for this triple slaying were six men identified as members of the Ku Klux Klan.

S5: Clan terrorism became a national outrage and helped spur the passage of the Civil Rights Act. At the same time, the FBI began to tear the KKK apart from the inside, infiltrating its leading branches. By the 1970s, about a century after it was founded, the Klan was basically in ruins. David Duke saw this as an opportunity. America’s most powerful symbol of white supremacist terror was up for grabs.

S11: What matters to you now? Mr. David Duke, further identified with the Duke, comes to us from Louisiana. Is the groundbreaking the best state in the southern United States? It’s national information director, the Ku Klux Klan.

S1: Duke thought of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan as the true heirs to the original Klan. The one that sprung up after the Civil War. In fact, Duke himself invented the group. In 1973, the Knights had no history or heritage and no connection to any of the various Klan factions in the United States. Nevertheless, Duke figured that the KKK name would serve as a kind of tailwind for his career as a professional racist. He was right.


S11: Twenty three years old, our oldest, youngest grand Bragan in the United States of America. Do you feel uncomfortable with your golf tonight or if you are uncomfortable on your suit? No, not at all.

S1: Duke’s network television debut came on. NBC is tomorrow. In January 1974, the tomorrow show aired at one a.m. on the East and West coasts, and it wanted desperately to be edgy. Its host, Tom Snyder, chatted with a priest who claimed to exercise demons, a blind man who found work censoring pornography and celebrities like Watergate icon Martha Mitchell. David Duke, the handsome young white supremacist, was the perfect tomorrow booking. He was well-spoken, controversial and beyond the fringes of social acceptability.

S11: That’s going to happen if we don’t preserve white power. Well, think seeing what’s happening right now in every major city in this country. White people, great numbers are down. Our search murdered. Right, used by Negroes.

S1: Snyder never prepared questions. He preferred to let the conversation flow naturally. That worked fine for Duke. He was no longer the ranting, raving young man from free speech, Ali. This David Duke, the suit wearing Grand Dragon, was on a mission to win over his audience. His strategy was simple persuade white Americans that they were victims.

S15: We believe that the white people in this country must organize the people pushing for our people in the schools, for our people and the government. The white race has been won. That’s not my job.

S16: You might say Snyder didn’t ignore the Klan’s legacy of violence.

S15: Would you take part in any event? Oh, I wouldn’t throw a party one one. Not now. I think the day I went to the organization, my better I went to jail for a years. I think in some cases it might be justified, but it was the guest, not the host, who ended up steering the interview.


S1: Rather than focus on the KKK is history of atrocities against black Americans. Snyder and Duke debated whether blacks were predisposed to criminality. Snyder also didn’t ask Duke about his Nazi sympathies or his Klan newsletter, which depicted black people as guerrilla’s and described teargassed his Negro control equipment. Towards the end of their time together, Snyder called Duke intelligent, articulate and charming. Their banter was collegial, at times even jocular.

S11: I got about five of the biggest plantsman that I know of the couple on the also football team. We saw your brothers playing football well over the holiday.

S17: And in the bowl game, you may have won one of the black guys on the thing tell. You know, you don’t have to tell me.

S18: The Tomorrow Show averaged three million viewers every night. And it made David Duke a public figure, national TV and radio bookers saw him as a great get someone who’d stir up controversy, who people would tune in for. Duke also became a regular on the college lecture circuit, collecting speaking fees for delivering his views to impressionable minds. David Duke had leveled up. He had a national profile and he learned how to portray himself as a new kind of Klansman, one with a department store, wardrobe and intellectual pretensions. But Duke couldn’t lead a movement if he didn’t have an army behind him. One fueled by white anger.

S1: David Duke didn’t observe America’s racial conflicts from a distance. He searched them out and stoked them in South Boston. He found a war that was already raging in a place that seemed aligned with his white power agenda. Here’s journalist Joe Klein.

S19: Well, Southie in the 1970s was a working class community and things weren’t going so good for working class white people. There used to be factories in Boston, but they were closing down. And on top of all that, suddenly these suburban liberals want to break the ethnic identity of the neighborhood by bringing in black kids.


S5: On the first day of school in September 1974, white adults and children in South Boston attacked school buses carrying black students.

S20: Don’t egg that one, don’t try to hit people with a man’s gotta make.

S1: In Boston and elsewhere, white opposition to school desegregation was violent and persistent busing was the most visible battleground in a bigger fight over the state of the civil rights movement. In the 1970s, black college enrollment was on the rise and more black politicians were winning elected office. A lot of white people thought these gains were more than sufficient. They believe the push for black equality was going too far. The programs like affirmative action were unfair and even racist, and that integration was an attack on their way of life. Duke, since this growing white insecurity and he wanted to capitalize on it as the nation’s eyes turned toward Boston, he tried to make himself the center of attention. Duke told any news outlet that would listen that he’d gotten a request from the white people to come up north and help them get organized.

S21: In the 60s, we had freedom rides of the blacks and certain white liberals down to the south. Today, we have a reverse of that.

S22: We’ve got white freedom rides north and our people are aiding our white brothers and sisters in Boston to fight against this tyranny.

S23: David Duke’s go to move in the 1970s was to show up where racial tensions were high. Find a camera and boast about the size of his following. Duke declared that one hundred and fifty Klan members would be joining him in Boston a few years later. He’d claim to be heading up a massive Klan board or watch a group of thousands of volunteers keeping an eye out for Mexicans trying to cross into the United States. This was all bluster. The border watch would turn out to be Duke and seven other guys. And there’s no evidence they did anything in Boston. Duke had just two men at his side and public officials acted like he didn’t exist. A handful of reporters did greed Duke when he arrived at Logan Airport. But most of them peeled off after that initial photo op. One journalist who didn’t. Was Joe Klein. He wrote about Duke for the underground newspaper. The real paper.


S19: We went to several neighborhoods in Southie, and along the way, I think Duke was shocked because his, you know, the image he was trying to project was clean cut, the new face of the Klan. And there was nothing clean cut about the people in SDC. They were far more profane than he was.

S1: By the end of their day together, Klein got the sense that Duke’s trip to South Boston was more than just a failed publicity stunt.

S3: Outside the public eye, away from the TV cameras, Duke was starting to find his people. After the sun went down, the Klan leader staged a gathering at a monument commemorating the Revolutionary War.

S19: I would guess that there were 500 to 1000 people there, mostly teenagers, mostly kids, some older folks. And it was in the field behind Southy high school.

S3: Duke said that the white people of Southie were American heroes. He blamed the federal government for allegedly forcing little white children out of their homes and sending them into black jungles. He also attacked welfare programs, saying they take money out of your pockets to finance the production of thousands of little black bastards.

S19: And the crowd started chanting things like boneheads, boneheads, boneheads. And, you know, he didn’t have to do very much to rev up these people. Their anger was there. They agreed with him and they you know, they wanted him do more. They would say, where are our sheets?

S3: Duke was wearing a suit, not a robe and hood. But on this night, he wouldn’t play the part of the well scrubbed Klansmen.

S24: The real issue isn’t a school here or a school there, Duke said. The real issue is and then he screamed the N-word in his article for the real paper. Klein wrote that the place exploded when Duke yelled that slur, that this is what the residents of Southie had come to hear. When it was all over, the 24 year old Duke stood on a car and declared white victory. He then asked the kids who’d been shadowing him to hand over three dollars each. The price of a Klan membership.


S23: Duke’s Ku Klux Klan was gathering strength in April 1975. He drew a thousand people to a gathering in rural Louisiana. It was one of the biggest Klan meet ups in decades. Duke told the crowd that black people were the puppets of Jews and he spat out the N-word. Much to the audience’s delight, Duke started out wearing a suit and tie. But at the end of the night, he changed into a Klan robe. He then set fire to a 40 foot cross. In a press release, Duke’s clan explained that they disliked the term cross burning. They preferred to call that ritual, which it symbolized death and terror to generations of black Americans across lighting. This was David Duke stance. He sold himself as a new kind of Klansmen while relying on old fashioned Klan slurs and symbols. The KKK is history of savagery, gave him a first saw of danger that he alternately played up and played down. He’d talk about wanting to shoot a black person, then turn around and say that he never condoned any kind of violence. Depending on the occasion, he styled himself as a polite activist for the civil rights of white people, a crowd inciting Grand Dragon or both. The movement Duke envisioned was more expansive than previous clans. He welcomed women and Catholics into his big white tent, a tactic that won him yet more media attention. In 1975, a writer from The New York Times interviewed five clans, women at Duke’s house in Baton Rouge. One of them, a 35 year old mother, said that what white people have to do is fight. I don’t mean with violence unless, of course, it is to protect ourselves and our children. I mean fight politically by electing congressmen and senators who feel just like we do. David Duke had the same idea.


S25: We need a voice for our heritage, ideals and interests. It’s only fair that things have evened up a bit. We do need a real voice with a majority. Lynch like David Duke, Senator, District 16.

S16: In this nineteen seventy five election for a state Senate seat in Baton Rouge. Duke didn’t pretend to be anything other than a racist. He said that his purpose as an elected official would be to work on behalf of white people. Duke Space wasn’t yet large enough to sweep him into office. But he had reason to be optimistic. In 1975, a thousand people went to Duke’s big Klan rally in rural Louisiana. That same year. More than 10 times that many Louisiana residents. Thirty three percent of voters in an affluent district were willing to cast ballots for a Klan leader. The electorate. Said was just about ready for us.

S1: David Duke didn’t just look to previous white power movements for inspiration. He also took notice of the fight for black equality, a crusade he considered offensive but highly effective. Here he is in an interview from 1975.

S26: What’s happened? This country’s of the minorities, the fact that they stick together have been able to wield tremendous power in terms of our government. And we believe that it’s time that the white majority, the people that built this country and created our Constitution and our ideals, that they again become masters of their own destiny.

S1: One of Duke’s supporters said that Duke was trying to do for white people what Martin Luther King did for black people. Duke, I like to think of himself as a more militant voice. He said, if I’d been born black, I would have been Malcolm X. Duke wanted to sell the idea that his own movement was an equal and opposite force to the push for black civil rights. In September 1977, a Chicago television host named Steve Edwards gave him the opportunity to make that case. In an hour long televised debate. Duke’s opponent was Jesse Jackson.


S22: So we will meet the Clansman and the civil rights leader when we come back in a moment. On Friday night.

S23: A few years earlier, Duke had been shouting racist tirades at his college classmates from on top of a box. Now, he was sharing a stage with a man widely seen as America’s most influential black leader. Jackson, who had worked under Martin Luther King, saw himself as a pragmatist. He believed in school integration. But not because he thought black students learn better alongside white ones. Rather, he understood that white schools got more government funding because Jackson said whites don’t intend to leave each other ignorant. On his home turf of Chicago, Jackson organized boycotts of white owned businesses that didn’t extend job offers to black workers. But he also took the leftist position that racism was inextricable from class struggle. That poor and working class blacks and whites should recognize their common interests. Duke began the debate by trying to make white nationalism sound peaceful and reasonable.

S22: I don’t want to suppress anybody. And the Klan is not trying to put anybody down or we’re trying to do is allow each race to be masters of its own destiny. We think the blacks should have control over their communities and their nations in the world. And we think that the white people, we should have control over ours.

S1: Jackson said the Duke misunderstood the United States.

S9: The genius of America is an experiment that suggests that people love of many nations minute races of the world. Well, somehow I accept the challenge to learn to live together in some relative proximity and harmony.

S23: This was high minded stuff. It didn’t take long for the tone to get earthier. At one point, Duke started talking about the founding fathers and what they might say about inner cities.


S22: I think Thomas Jefferson would walk on the south side of Chicago if he could walk and survive and he’d vomit. That’s what I think Thomas Jefferson would do. I think he’d be sick.

S1: Jackson and Duke went back and forth, an increasingly hostile fashion.

S9: Well, you don’t have a monopoly on work. I mean, the fact is blacks have worked hard but didn’t get paid for final work. Even while historians on the Senate blacks made Cotton King and we hold to back a row and we raise your children when you ought to try it and to raise your own hand, you’re taught that that is not.

S22: You’re talking about physical things. If that’s what makes America and we’re going to have to give the horse the right to vote and give the horse equal power because they even contributed more than the black man did physically.

S1: No matter who said what. The fact of the broadcast was a triumph for Duke. He was being presented as a spokesman for white America, one whose ideas were worth batting around. Jesse Jackson didn’t need this platform. So why did he agree to go on TV with a blow dried bigot?

S9: I chose to participate in this program, Steve, tartlet, because I think that as more white people develop economic anxieties and economic insecurities, their fears can be played upon by demagogues. The threat to this country right now is the fact that we will end up so racially polarized and so weak and our separation until we will not be able to make the nation achieve the level of greatness that is capable of achieving.

S1: Jackson ended the show with a pointed message.


S9: It’s important for me to say this. You know, first of all, blacks are not afraid of the Klan and the Mall, and they can wear hoods or west suits. They can burn cross the bed. And that’s problem. We’re not afraid.

S1: Duke’s final word was an invitation.

S22: People watching a television say might think this is not true or he’s not telling the truth. Well, if they agree with me or if they disagree with me, they could write to me and I’ll supply the documents. I get it right. David Duke, Ku Klux Klan. Jefferson, Louisiana. Alpha, provide these documents to them. Just David Duke. We like Jefferson, Louisiana. David Duke. I’m very honored, Doctor, that even just you had a legitimate plan. I’m sorry. Good night, everybody. I’ll see you Monday morning, 9:00 a.m. Chicago.

S23: In the 1970s, David Duke became synonymous with a certain kind of white supremacy. He built his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan up from nothing and made it into one of the nation’s leading racist organizations. Duke was attuned to white anger, and there were plenty of Americans who found his bigotry invigorating. But by the end of the decade, Duke was hitting a ceiling. When he ran for the state Senate in 1979, he got fewer votes than he had in 1975. A national poll also found that the Klan had an approval rating of just 10 percent, up four points since 1965, but still abysmally low. Bertha Gaffney Gorman met David Duke in the summer of 1978. She was a staff writer for the Sacramento Bee and she was working on a series about civil rights 10 years after the King assassination.

S27: To me, it was almost a natural that there had to be some writing about David Duke in who he was. He really was, you know, beating his own from other people, beating the drum for him. And they were lifting him up as some kind of mystical man. And he himself was going to save the white race.


S1: Duke insisted on doing the interview late at night in Gaffney, Gorman’s hotel room. Gaffney Gorman is black and she’d brought a white male friend with her on the road trip for safety purposes in the room. Duke shook hands with the white man. He didn’t extend his hand to Gaffney Gorman.

S27: That mean he would not look me in the eyes. He would not look me in the face. And he always looked off to the side. One of the things that caught my attention immediately is that his feet, his legs kept moving. He had this really nervous. His legs go like a pipe. I mean, he he. And then he would seem to try and control it. And then another one would start. And he did that all through the interview.

S1: Duke gave Gaffney Gorman his usual patter. He said that white people were being discriminated against and that the civil rights movement and integration had caused every problem imaginable.

S27: Black people destroyed the education system. They destroyed the economy. They destroyed the automobile industry, you name it. Black people destroyed it.

S1: Duke said the KKK was on its way to political power and that reports of Klan violence were concocted by the media.

S28: He told Gaffney Gorman that he got no salary from the Klan and that he supported the group by writing books under a pseudonym. And with that, he walked out.

S29: When he left, it was not of a person who felt very powerful. It was just a person who felt very angry and felt that someone had taken something from him. And I was not very. That was not very impressed with him. He literally was half. We have to do it before he came back and asked for the money to pay the party. Depak It was a dollar. Twenty five cent.


S28: Before she left town, there was one more thing. Gaffney Gorman wanted to do.

S29: After a lot of thought, I said, I want to see where he lives. I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but what we’re going to need to see what this man is about. And sure enough, we drove out to this little house where he lived.

S27: Talking about a weather beaten on painted house. That’s where he lived.

S18: Duke was writing books under pen names to make money. One of them, called Finders Keepers, was a guide for women looking to attract and hold on to men. Its authors, James Conrad and Dorothy Vanderbilt, a.k.a. David Duke and David Duke, suggested speaking slowly and softly, getting cosmetic surgery and agreeing to anal sex. Duke wrote another book, African Advo, using the name Mohamed X. That one was billed as a street fighting manual for black militants with techniques supposedly learned from a tribe in Nigeria. Duke would claim that African atah was part of a counter-intelligence operation. All I can say with certainty is that African ATCO is a very weird book and then it didn’t make Duke rich. The Klan had made David Duke famous, but it could only carry him so far.

S1: By the late 70s, he was looking for an escape plan and Duke’s fellow Klansmen were happy to see him go. One Klan member said the Duke’s womanizing was conduct unbecoming a racist. Others accuse Duke of pilfering money from his own followers.

S23: Duke denied all of these allegations, claiming that disgruntled Klan types had conspired with a Jewish group to try to bring him down. Duke’s most persistent clan antagonist was Bill Wilkinson, the leader of a rival group called The Invisible Empire.


S1: Wilkinson thought Duke was a glory hog and too much of an egg head to get things done. You don’t fight wars with words and books. Wilkinson said of Duke. You fight them with bullets and bombs. After feuding for five years, Duke and Wilkinson agreed to a secret deal. Duke would resign from his clan and sell Wilkenson his membership list, the names and addresses of three thousand Klansmen which were supposed to be kept secret. Wilkinson would pay Duke thirty five thousand dollars. It was a setup. Wilkinson had invited some reporters to listen in on their negotiations. When the journalists popped out and started asking questions, Duke ran away. Wilkinson considered this operation a huge success.

S30: What was she going to show people?

S1: He was a calm and good man who would literally sell us to Bill and Lynn and Duke would publicly quit the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. In July 1980, I’m resigning, he said, because I don’t think the Klan can succeed at this point because of its violent image and because of people like Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson, it turned out, was an FBI informant and he’d later leave the Klan himself. Duke would hand over the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan to his old friend, Don Black, who he’d met 10 years earlier on that road trip to a Nazi conference in 1981. Black was convicted of taking part in a plot to overthrow the island of Dominica, which he was hoping to transform into a white utopia. Blackwood learned to code in prison and he’d use those skills to launch the racist Web site Stormfront. The other guy on that Nazi road trip, Joseph Paul Franklin, firebombed a synagogue in 1977, then murdered multiple interracial couples. He also shot and paralyzed Larry Flynt because he was outraged by the depiction of interracial sex and Flynt’s Hustler magazine. Franklin was arrested in 1980 and was ultimately convicted of murdering eight people. Though he told one reporter he’d killed approximately 22. He was executed by lethal injection in 2013. To revive his dreams of building a mass movement, David Duke needed to start something new.


S21: Former grand wizard is seeking a more positive image. Because I’m just tired of having to deal with a Hollywood stereotype of the I and discuss the issues before the American public.

S31: Hi, Rick. Let I’ll give it to the National Association for the Advancement of White People. We are a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to equal rights for all people and for the preservation of American culture as the right race. A copy of our newsletter, the please leave your name and address after they occur, and we will send you a copy by return mail. Please speak slowly.

S18: Me for Duke in double HWP was a clean slate, a group untainted by violence. It was also perhaps an admission that he’d taken the wrong approach to white power movement building. Here’s a story in Lance Hill.

S32: I think by 1980 he realized that at least superficially, the racist movement had to lose the robe and the ritual.

S18: Duke’s bizarro version of the NAACP didn’t win any political victories for white people in the first half of the 1980s. Duke worked mostly as a newsletter publisher, writing up and reprinting racist articles. By 1984, Jesse Jackson was a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. That year, David Duke’s name appeared in The New York Times just once in the ninth paragraph of an article about Bill Wilkinson. Lance Hill has been following Duke since the 70s.

S32: He thinks there’s a simple explanation for why Duke lost Team Ronald Reagan once Reagan came into power. Here’s somebody who expressed many of the policies that the openly white supremacist groups had been advocating as organizing issues. And it just sucked all of the fuel out of the radical right wing movement.


S18: If Duke couldn’t beat Ronald Reagan, he had to be like Ronald Reagan. The clean cut Klansman Ben had run its course. Duke’s best path forward was mainstream politics.

S33: And what’s gonna happen now? And this is the best news I think I have to give you. No matter what happens now, it is a gentleman. We have created a political shift in this country.

S12: Next time on Slover in 1989, David Duke got a foothold in American politics to build on that victory. He’d have to fend off two Louisiana women. One was a Republican official. The other was a Holocaust survivor. Slow Burn is a production of Slate plus Slate’s membership program this season, we’re giving Slate plus members early access to the first half of the series. Sign up now and you won’t have to wait until next week to hear episode three. Here’s a preview.

S34: I was pretty, you know, a. did. But when I went up there and saw how he was like, I felt like I was in on a dirty little secret. Ha ha ha. Look what I did in Louisiana. Pull the wool over their eyes. And it was like he went back to his supporters and he was using the Republican Party. And that just made me mad.

S12: You can listen now by signing up at Slate dot com slash slow burn starting next week. Plus, members will also get weekly bonus episodes where we’ll dive deeper into the history we’re exploring this season. We couldn’t make slow burn without the support of Slate plus. So please sign up if you can head over to Slate dot com slash sloper. Slow burn is produced by me and Christopher Johnson with editorial direction by Lowe and Lou and Gabriel Roth. Madeleine Ducharme is our production assistant. Sophie Sommer, grad is Slow Burns assistant producer. Our mix engineer is Paul Manzie. David Gross composed our theme song. The artwork for Slow Burn is by Lisa Larson Walker. Special thanks to Peter Robinson for some of the audio we used in this episode. Thanks also to Jordan Hirsch, Jessica Seidman and Slate’s Chow to Katie Raeford, Laura Bennett, Allison Benedikt and Jared Holt. Thanks for listening.