KU professor explains comment likening Ferguson grand jury to KKK hearings

LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Has America’s perception on race changed since the 1800’s?

That’s what one University of Kansas professor is asking after writing a book about the lack of justice for blacks during the early days of the Ku Klux Klan. He’s comparing those issues to the situations we’ve witnessed recentlyK in Ferguson and in New York.

“When I was finishing the book I sat back and said really how far have we come,” Shawn Leigh Alexander, KU Associate Professor said.

A question Alexander has been wondering about since a Grand Jury decided not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of a black Missouri teenager.

“It’s not telling someone they’re guilty or innocent, it’s saying that we are going to bring these people to a trial so that we can fully air out what happened,” Alexander said.

These recent incidents resonate with Alexander who just wrote the book, Reconstruction Violence and the Ku Klux Klan Hearings. A book that details a selected testimony’s from the 1871 congressional hearings when Klan members went to a Grand Jury, and still no justice for all those killed.

“Three thousand people being chosen to be brought forth for a trial that just doesn’t add up” Alexander said.

And no matter how many classrooms might read the book, Alexander says for there to be any change, America needs to have an honest discussion about race.

“We are quick to judge, and not talk about the very circumstance that may lead to an incident,” Alexander said.

While KU student Fred Rice admits things are not nearly as bad as they used to be, he says there is still room for change.

“The only difference now is it’s just not blatant, so now everybody’s going to say it had nothing to do with race where as back then it had everything to do with race we just don’t care,” Rice said.

But student Nicholas Love does not agree, saying the times have changed.

“I feel like the KKK actually extremely racist, comparatively to an officer who felt threatened,” Love said.

Alexander has published four books, but so far, Reconstruction Violence and the Ku Klux Klan Hearings, is the only one he’s used in the classroom.

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