Tuesday, January 13, 2015

KKK, PBS, Salisbury, and Granite Quarry

Tonight PBS is airing an episode of American Experience entitled "Klansville USA". It's about Salisbury, North Carolina in the 1960s. More specifically, it's about Granite Quarry NC, and Bob Jones who was Grand Dragon of the Klan in NC during that era. Granite Quarry was a community of a few hundred people about 3 miles outside the Salisbury city limits. From birth until I left home for UNC, my home was halfway in between Salisbury and Granite Quarry. I went to church in Salisbury, and I went to school in Granite Quarry. Once there was a KKK rally on the Stokes Ferry Road just across the field behind my house. The rally could be seen and heard from my bedroom. Yet it's not as if the Klan was a "presence". During my entire childhood I rarely heard the Klan mentioned, including during the many years in school in Granite Quarry. If mentioned, it was mostly as a curiosity. And I did develop a curiosity about the Klan. Years later (around 1964) while very active in the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill, I attended a Klan rally held at the intersection of I-85 and Hwy. 86 which runs from Chapel Hill up to Hillsborough. By this time the Klan was little more than a curiosity to almost everybody. But it still (to me at least) provided an interesting window into our history.

One of the benefits of age is the perspective that comes with age. My lifetime encompasses half the period from the middle of Ulysses Grant's presidency to the present. I remember sitting with my grandmother on her porch and listening to her tell about the day in 1900 when her grandmother died after waiting in vain for 36 years for my great great grandfather to return from the Civil War. And I look forward to the PBS American Experience episode tonight in part as my own story. We are indeed complex beings.

-- Lavon Page

About the PBS American Experience episode on the KKK
Story and photos about the PBS show from the Salisbury Post (newspaper)