Sometimes our talent can take us places our character cannot keep us.

~ Mildred Gaddis, host “The Mildred Gaddis Show,” WCHB-1200 AM, Detroit

When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.

~ Maya Angelou, Poet Laureate

Socrates (470-399 B.C.) – a famous Greek philosopher from Athens who taught Plato, and Plato taught Aristotle. Socrates used a method of teaching by asking questions. The Greeks called this form dialectic – starting from a thesis or question, then discussing ideas and moving back and forth between points of view to determine how well ideas stand up to critical review with the ultimate principle of the dialogue being Veritas – Truth.

Characters

  • Socrates
  • Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan
  • Mayor Kwame “Klan” Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit, Mich. (2002-present)

Prologue

Socrates: We are gathered here today at this Symposium to discuss the state of black America with an ironic twist. Forty years since the magnificent gains of the civil rights movement, 40 years since the marches of Dr. Martin Luther King with the glorious crescendo of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I ask this singular question: For the past 40 years were black people better off under the tyranny of the Ku Klux Klan or the “leadership” of Kwame “Klan” Kilpatrick?

Grand Dragon: For over 100 years,– from the end of the Civil War to the late 1960s, the Ku Klux Klan has terrorized black Americans with impunity from the shadows of the lynchman’s noose. Hidden behind white sheets in the dark of night under fiery crosses, our most effective weapons arise – fear, silence and complicity by ordinary American citizens. Those were the good old days where the white man ruled everything. We didn’t have all this crime and violence in our cities and towns. Good people could walk down the streets in peace and safety. The Negro knew his place!


Mayor Kilpatrick (outraged): “The Negro knew his place!” Grand Dragon, that’s a very racist statement! In my city, the great city of Detroit, all of our citizens have freedom, liberty and access to all the wonderful qualities of life that were only a distant dream to my people 40 years ago under your evil, racist regime.

Socrates (to the Grand Dragon): Indeed. Let us examine the record. In 1968, you were the Grand Dragon of the national KKK headquartered in Birmingham, Ala. Your governor was George Wallace, a national symbol of resistance to racial integration. Your police chief was Bull Connor, a sadistic, pathological maniac that derived pleasure from torturing blacks who legally and peacefully protested for their civil rights. Yet, despite the stifling aspects of de jure (legal) and de facto (by practice) racial discrimination, black people in the main were on the ascendancy politically, economically and socially. However, ironically, when black Americans won the battle of racial integration, they concurrently lost the war of civilization.

Mayor Kilpatrick: I’ve been the mayor of Detroit since 2002. Black people are much better off than they were under the terroristic tactics of the KKK 40 years ago in Birmingham. It is beyond rational argument … isn’t it?

Socrates: In your delusional world of argument, Mayor Kilpatrick, yes; however, in the world of rational argument, no. You, the civil rights movement and history are right to memorialize and chronicle the innumerable vicious acts of brutality and institutional racism that persist to this day, inhumane and racist treatment blacks and others have suffered under the hands of the KKK for over 100 years, oftentimes with the blessing of the local police and magistrates. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the irrefutable evidence of history that proves the state of black America was better in 1968 than in 2008.

Grand Dragon: That’s because every good, red-blooded white American knew what the Klan stood for – we hated the Negroes, we hated the Jews, we hated the Catholics, we hated the immigrants, we hated the whites that didn’t hate the Negroes, Jews, Catholics and the immigrants. Our party was the Democrat Party. The party that tried to secede from the Union to maintain black slavery in America. Our motto – segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!

Mayor Kilpatrick: You see, Socrates? You see?! Listen to that racist hate speech from the Grand Dragon of the KKK. I certainly am not like this white racist! I want to lift people up; the KKK wants to keep them down. I want to give people good-paying, respectable jobs; the KKK wants black people only to do servile work. I want to be the mayor of a living, thriving, dynamic city where everyone can live the American Dream; the KKK wants black people to live in ignorance, fear and despair.

Socrates (to Kilpatrick): If that is so, Mayor Kilpatrick, then why in 2008, after six years under your leadership, was Detroit christened by Forbes Magazine as “The most miserable city in America”? Why has your administration failed to govern effectively? There are widespread street light outages and mandatory audits lacking for two years, costing your cash-strapped city tens of millions in penalties from the state. Why does Detroit have the highest violent crime rate, the second-highest unemployment rate, the highest number of toxic waste sites, deplorable schools, astronomical school dropout and teen pregnancy rates?

Why does Detroit have such wretchedly poor city services, so much so that residents must pay an additional $300 per year for garbage pickup? Why do your streets have such huge craters? Why does snow and ice remain unshoveled and people live in fear behind bars on their doors and windows because the criminal elements of the city are running wild – because they know that the police do nothing?


Ku Klux Klan members parading along Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., Aug. 18, 1925.

Grand Dragon: What Mayor Kilpatrick and by extension black leadership has done to their own people over the past 40 years has surpassed even the wildest dreams of the KKK. You abort over one-third of your own babies, killing them by the millions to this day. The KKK killed only a few thousands black people, and that was over a 100 year period. Most ironic is that election after election you vote for a political party whose major platforms are all directly against the vested interests of your own people.

At our height of power in 1925, the KKK had over 4 million members. We proudly marched 40,000 strong down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, yet our demonic hatred of blacks, Jews, Catholics and immigrants have no comparison with the pathology, despair, ignorance and black-on-black crime affecting the state of black America today – terrorist tactics done by their own people in complicity with big-city black mayors, the public schools, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democrat Party … yet, the KKK is called a racist organization?!

Socrates: Let us hear the conclusion of this matter. Are black people better off under the openly racist regime of Gov. George Wallace, police Chief Bull Connor and the Grand Dragon of the KKK, or are black people better off under the incompetent, arrogant and pathological black leadership of a Kwame “Klan” Kilpatrick? – KKK or KKK? It is a paradox that may not be able to be answered in this generation; however, posing this question offers the seeds of hope for a new generation of leadership that refuses to be defined by skin color, but will only be judged by the content of their character.

Until that apotheosis occurs there is only a negligible difference between the tyranny of the Ku Klux Klan of 1868-1968 and the tyranny of Kwame “Klan” Kilpatrick in 2008. On this I concur with Detroit radio talk-show host Mildred Gaddis who regarding the deplorable and tragic leadership of Mayor Kilpatrick in Detroit, eloquently stated, “Sometimes our talent can take us places our character cannot keep us.”


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