KU professor compares Ferguson grand jury to KKK hearings

LAWRENCE (KSNT) – In promoting his new book, an associate professor with the University of Kansas is drawing comparisons between the Ku Klux Klan hearings of the 1870’s and the recent grand jury decision in Ferguson, MO.

Dr. Shawn Alexander is an Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and the director of the Langston Hughes Center at KU. He calls the KKK hearings a forgotten piece of history; a violent history. According to him, America investigated the violence and as a nation decided that we were going to do something about it. Alexander says that more than 20,000 people were killed, but less than 65 people served jail time for those crimes. He points to what he says is a lack of prosecution by the U.S. government in those cases despite existing evidence.

In speaking of his new book, Reconstruction Violence and the Ku Klux Klan Hearings, Alexander draws direct parallels between the racially tense period of late 19th century America and recent modern events, including Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, MO and the death of Eric Garner in New York in the 21st century.

“Unfortunately, the instances such as Ferguson, Missouri and New York with Eric Garner and Michael Brown and the unwillingness of the grand juries to return an indictment shows us that maybe on some levels history hasn’t changed that much,” Alexander mused. “That we are really unwilling to prosecute or at least bring to trial for an investigation for the death of an African American…”

Dr. Alexander made the statements in a video-taped interview with the University that was posted to the @KUnews Twitter feed Sunday. The interview first appeared on the university’s website a week ago. Click here to read KU’s news release on Alexander’s book.



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