KKK history lingers in the Black Hills

Published: Apr. 14, 2019 at 8:58 PM CDT
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Imagine visiting your mother and she gives you a Ku Klux Klan initiation robe to use as cleaning rags. Well, that happened to Charles Rambow in 1970.

"If it's not a Choir robe, what in the world is it? It's a Ku Klux Klan initiation robe."

Those were the words Charles Rambow heard from his mother in 1970. Now he re-enacts the conversation with his wife as part of a presentation about the Klan in the Black Hills.

"Unfortunately the Alt-Right is coming out into the open. We have such things as Charlottesville Virginia. I mean this is totally unacceptable. And that's one of the primary reasons why I think it's important that we talk about the Klan," he says.

So he wrote his master's thesis on the subject and shared his findings with others. As more people heard about his story, Rambow learned more about others.

"Time and again people would come forward and say 'This is what happened to me, this is my experience." So the little bit that I put together originally expanded considerably," says Rambow.

Civil Right Advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center points to three locations in the Black Hills where hate groups are active, including one KKK organization. Rambow even mentions the four groups that existed in the Black Hills but says with the current social climate other groups take those same ideas.

"I feel very passionately about eliminating this white supremacist threat and the Klan, neo-Nazism, the Alt-Right, this is all the same thing," he says.

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