Three mischievous fans of the Roughriders’ hockey team flouted a taboo when they recently wore hooded Ku Klux Klan robes to taunt the opposing squad. But the Red River High School hockey spectators might not have known just how prevalent the Ku Klux Klan once was in the Red River Valley – nor that Grand Forks, home of Red River High, was a hotbed for the group, which railed against Catholics, blacks, Jews, Asians and foreigners.
Some Fargo residents are outraged that there are members of the Fargo community who were outraged by the fans demonstrating support for their sports team by donning KKK robes and masks. It's all in good fun, right? dressing up in the robes of those who lynched and in many others ways shoved a reign of terror upon unnumbered communities throughout the U.S. in the teens and twenties and into the thirties, and did it as much so in North Dakota as in Tennessee? So what's the problem? Get grip! Lighten up! Laugh a little! This ain't no thang.
It is history, and we know all too well how easily history repeats itself.
Excellent work, Fargo Forum. Thank you for showing, not telling us, so to speak, that none of us anywhere can be too vigilant when it comes to representing bigotry and the evil it performs in even the slightest of a positive light.
A Ku Klux Klan robe, modeled here on a mannequin, is part of North Dakota State University’s Emily Reynolds Costume Collection. The historic robe is not used in classes and is not on display to the general public. The garment was found in the 1950s by a man who worked as a Fargo trash collector. An NDSU employee discovered the robe and hood at an auction sale and bought it for $18, according to a 1990 NDSU Spectrum story.Evidently grandpa died and the kids, cleaning out the closets, chose to throw out his old KKK robes instead of donating them along with rest of his clothes to the Salvation Army.
There are links to more photos and related stories that provide a profile of a Red River Valley KKK member of those days. It isn't what you think, and it's shocking, because one of them at least, is an immigrant himself, from Croatia.