Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"Klansville, USA" - A PBS Film (2015)

I just read this book back in January and somehow never reviewed it here. Don't know why, except that one book ends and another begins. Sometimes a good one gets left out. Such was the case with that one. But, in case you missed the book there is a PBS documentary of the same name and by the same author; David Cunningham.

Reading the book was an eye opener in that I would never have guessed that over half of all the KKK memberships and claverns in the United States were located here in North Carolina; many within 100 miles or less from my home. Kannaoplis; which is 18 minutes from my house; was a particularly active area. There is a tree located about 3 miles from me which is indicated on the chart showing the location of each of the lynchings which took place between the turn of the last century and the dawn of this new one. 

The film is stark and will leave you wondering how the hell they got some of these films. They actually show the "secret" initiation ceremony and other portions of the documentary show men, women and children parading; with hoods up in broad daylight; down the streets of Salisbury, Greensboro and other cities throughout the state. Watching them reminded me of the people who indiscriminately allow themselves to be filmed saying and doing idiotic things today. What were they thinking? 

I passed through North Carolina for the first time when I was 9 years old in early 1964. We were on a trip to Virginia and Washington, DC when we decided to go a bit further and see where my Dad's cigarettes came from. So, we wound up in Raleigh and also Durham, where the biggest cigarette manufacturers were located.

The most memorable part of the trip for me was stopping at a Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge, complete with restaurant and orange roof. What could be more welcoming than the familiar corporate colors, which meant comfort and civility? We entered the restaurant and ate our meal. I was amazed listening to the accents and hearing the waitress call everyone "honey" and "sweetie." Man, I was down South! Then the Coca-Cola truck arrived to make a delivery.

The waitress behind the counter greeted the driver flirtatiously and with honey dripping from her every word. The driver, too, played his part perfectly. With his rolled up short sleeved Coca Cola shirt and a cigarette dangling from his lips he was the embodiment of an American workingman. Then they spoke.

She began by barking, "Boy! The trucks here, get it inside!" A small black kid; skinnier than me; came out from the kitchen area. He never looked up; only down at the floor and mumbled "Yes, 'aam." And as he went to to the door and the task of wheeling in those cases of soda; which were taller than either of us; the driver added, "And don't you break nothing now, y'hear?" This film captures that with crystal clarity.

No comments:

Post a Comment