In what’s being billed as a historical first, the president of the Casper, Wyo., NAACP met recently behind closed doors with an organizer of the KKK chapter from Great Falls, Mont. — and the meeting actually ended with a crossover membership.
The Ku Klux Klan organizer actually paid $50 to join the NAACP, in order to learn more about the civil rights group’s views, The Associated Press reported.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said on Tuesday that the meeting — between Jimmy Simmons of the NAACP with John Abarr of the KKK — was the first of its kind in history.
Mr. Abarr said to the AP that he actually filled out a membership card to the NAACP and paid the $30 enrollment fee — and tacked on a $20 donation.
Mr. Simmons said the meeting was called because his group had heard that KKK literature was being sent out in Gillette, a community about 130 miles from Casper, and he wanted to discuss the state of race relations. He said in the AP report that he also wanted to talk about reports of black men being beaten — but he declined to give additional details.
Mr. Abarr, for his part, said he didn’t know anything about the literature distribution or about any hate crimes. But he agreed to meet.
Bradley Jenkins, the United Klans of America imperial wizard, said in a telephone interview with AP from his Birmingham, Ala., home that he had given his approval to the meeting and said it was a first between the KKK and NAACP.
Mr. Abarr said the meeting didn’t change anybody’s views.
“I don’t know if we accomplished too much,” Mr. Abarr said, in the AP report. “We’re not about violence. We’re about being proud to be white.”