On Jan. 9, 1966, the White Knights of the Mississippi Ku Klux Klan murdered the Black civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi after fire-bombing and shooting into his house. It was one of thousands of hate crimes conducted in the south by whites who waged a reign of terror against Blacks to frighten them from abandoning calls for desegregation and voting rights.
Is America home to a secret underworld of militant political groups bent on overthrowing the U.S. Constitution? Are apocalyptic Christians akin to religious militants elsewhere in the world in their quest to create a religious state? In a democratic society, should people have the right to preach the extermination of others? Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center is joined by Chris Hedges, author of American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. Ian Masters moderates.
On a windy afternoon a few days ago I went to a depressed section of North Memphis to visit an old clapboard house that was once owned by a German immigrant named Jacob Burkle. Oral history—and oral history is all anyone has in this case since no written documents survive—holds that Burkle used his house as a stop on the underground railroad for escaped slaves in the decade before the Civil War. The house is now a small museum called Slave Haven. It has artifacts such as leg irons, iron collars and broadsheets advertising the sale of men, women and children. In the gray floor of the porch there is a trapdoor that leads to a long crawl space and a jagged hole in a brick cellar wall where fugitives could have pushed themselves down into the basement. Continue reading →