Did the NAACP Learn Anything from Meeting with the KKK?

( [email protected] ) Sep 10, 2013 02:34 PM EDT

A secret meeting between a representative of the Wyoming chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a Ku Klux Klan organizer ended with the Klan organizer paying $50 to join the civil rights organization, participants said.

The recent meeting between Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper NAACP, and John Abarr, a KKK organizer from Great Falls, Mont., took place at a hotel in Casper, Wyo., under tight security, according to an Associated Press story and reported by ABC News.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the United Klans of America said that the meeting was a first.

Abarr told The Associated Press he filled out an NAACP membership form so he could get the group's newsletters and some insight into its views. He said he paid a $30 fee to join, plus a $20 donation.

Simmons said he asked for the meeting after receiving reports that KKK literature was being distributed in Gillette, about 130 miles north of Casper, and to discuss race relations, including what he said were reported beatings of African-American men. He did not provide details, according to the Associated Press.

Abarr said he knew nothing about hate crimes or the literature, which was distributed in a residential neighborhood of Gillette in October.

"I think all my first dates were probably less awkward than this," says Jeremy Fugleberg on National Public Radio (NPR) and npr.org, referring to the NAACP's meeting with the Ku Klux Klan. Fugleberg is assistant managing editor for news at the Casper Star-Tribune.

The meeting took months to set up. It was prompted by a number of assaults on African-American men in Gillette, a town about 130 miles north of Casper. Simmons said he was concerned that the attacks might have been racially motivated because the men were reportedly attacked after hanging out with white women.

Klan literature began appearing in Gillette. So Simmons negotiated with the Klan for a sit-down meeting with John Abarr, a kleagle in the United Klan of America, according to NPR.

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. From the ballot box to the classroom, the thousands of dedicated workers, organizers, leaders and members who make up the NAACP continue to fight for social justice for all Americans.

According to kkk.org, "our people - my white brothers and sisters - will stay committed to a non-violent resolution. That resolution must consist of solidarity in white communities around the world. The hatred for our children and their future is growing and is being fueled every single day. Stay firm in your convictions. Keep loving your heritage and keep witnessing to others that there is a better way than a war torn, violent, wicked, socialist, new world order. That way is the Christian way - law and order - love of family - love of nation. These are the principles of western Christian civilization."