Paris City Council did the right thing last week when councilors unanimously passed a resolution condemning a “White Unity Conference” planned in October by the Church of the Ku Klux Klan, and more specifically against the use of “Paris, Texas” in klan advertisements.
I am glad the council realizes the need for such condemnation, and I am hopeful Lamar County Commissioners’ Court will follow suit because the planned event is outside the city limits.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the KKK has a long history of violence and is the oldest and most infamous of American hate groups. It targets not only Black people, but also Jewish people, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community and, until recently, Catholics. I am saddened to know we have members of this group living in our community, something made evident by the use of private property here.
The resolution condemns the use of the name “Paris, Texas,” in connection with the “White Unity Conference” as being “untrue and as besmirching the name of the city,” and requests that organizers remove that name from materials.
Furthermore, it states, among other things, that City Council does not condone hate groups or bigotry of any kind, and that the council is “proud of the diversity of the residents of the city” and “has proudly participated in community events.”
As racial equality activist Taisley Scroggin noted in remarks during public forum at last week’s meeting, the fact that the Church of the KKK chose Paris, Texas, as a place to hold this gathering is not a coincidence, not a turn of bad luck, but rather because of a history of racial tension within the community.
In addition to passing a resolution against the klan and other white supremist groups from meeting here, Scroggin asked the council “to encourage our community to have deeper conversations” about race, and to admit to the systemic racism that exists here.
While city government can “encourage our community to have deeper conversations,” it’s up to every single person, no matter what race, religion or origin to make it a priority to be more understanding of one another, and to bring pressure on those among us on the fringes who cling to the past rather than look toward a peaceful and productive future.