A&E’s Generation KKK is an eight-part documentary about passing down the legacy of the Ku Klux Klan to family members in hopes of keeping the movement alive. It centers on three different men who are eager to pass on their beliefs down their kids: Mr. Howard, the Imperial Wizard of the North Mississippi White Knights; Chris Buckley, a Grand Knighthawk with the North Georgia White Knights; and Richard Nichols, the Grand Dragon in the Tennessee Knights of the Invisible Empire.
Mr. Howard is seen giving his daughters pretty presents that contain pointed hoods. While helping his daughters try on the hoods, he tells the cameras, “Giving my girls my legacy.” His efforts and those around him apparently are making a different to their cause. The New York Times reports that the number of independent Klan chapters in the U.S. rose from 72 to 190 between 2014 to 2015. The Anti-Defamation League reports estimates of membership to the KKK is close to 3,000 and others place membership to be as high 8,000. It’s tough to find an accurate count as there is no national organization. For people like Mr. Howard, the key to the KKK to continue to survive is to raise their children in the ways of the hoods.
“We all here for the same reason: we’re here for the preservation of our race and the preservation of our people,” Mr. Howard says. He has a dream to become the next David Duke. “If we don’t fight this battle, our children ain’t gonna have a future.”
As for A&E and the show’s producers, putting together the documentary was a fine balancing act. When word first spread that A&E were creating this documentary, there was a strong reaction from many concerned that the presentation could end up “normalizing members of the terrorist group” said Deadline. “Those fears are further amplified because of the role the alt-right, and other vaguely self-identifying white nationalists played in the still-contentious 2016 election and the victory of Donald Trump in the Electoral College. Notably, former Klan leader David Duke has openly touted Trump as a friend to the cause of white nationalism,” says Deadline.
Aengus James, the filmmaker for Generation KKK has attempted to balance the documentary by also featuring anti-hate activists Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Arno Michaelis and Bryon Widner. “We had a stance, and we were clear with folks that we were hoping for them to see the light and to come out of this world. It’s an incredibly destructive environment for anybody to be in, let alone children.”
“We certainly didn’t want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK,” said Rob Sharenow, general manager of A&E. “The only political agenda is that we really do stand against hate. I certainly think that A&E should be on the side of shining a light on things that aren’t really looked at. I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re an advocacy brand. But I do think there’s a message of hope in all these shows and a promise of redemption.”
— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) December 18, 2016
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Generation KKK premieres on January 10 on A&E.
[Featured Image by AP Images]