“Little Charlie” poses in her custom made Klan wedding veil, as her fiancé watches on. I was told the black eye was from a work related accident.
Anthony Karen’s photographs of the Klu Klux Klan take the viewer behind the scenes of the secret society steeped in division, brotherhood and race; an inordinate blush on America’s lilywhite lure to be all equal under God.
The viewer gains some insight into the cultural, ideological and socioeconomic lot of people linked by the Klan – shaped by their environment, family, fate and history.
Karen tells FotoEvidence:
“I think a lot of the credibility I’ve earned also stems from my basic philosophy that you need to give some of yourself in order to receive anything back. I spend time with people, I listen to what they have to say, and I treat each person as an individual. I don’t have to believe what they believe, but whenever I’m in someone’s space, I feel I’m obliged to observe without judgment.That’s not to say I wouldn’t intervene if I felt a situation called for it, but I choose to observe moment to moment and simply take in what I see and experience without presumption or pretext.”
He is the skilled photojournalist, inviting you in with an empathetic eye for the truth, encouraging the human compulsion to know more:
“Momma Ruth” (right) a 63-year old Ku Klux Klan robe maker during the first meeting of the MKR (Momma’s Knight Rider’s of the Ku Klux Klan). Momma Ruth is the first woman to hold the rank of Imperial Wizard within the Klan’s hierarchy.
“Whenever you’re granted access into a person’s intimate space, you’re establishing a relationship based on trust. In my opinion, trust is trust. That doesn’t suggest I become complacent with my situation to the point of exploitation, nor does it mean I’m selectively disregarding certain moments to depict something that is not. I do admit I try to offer a balanced perspective as to my experiences within marginalized organizations. … [T]o consciously distance myself will in effect (or could) create bias.”
“Momma Ruth,” a seamstress who makes robes for the Ku Klux Klan in the process of taking an robe order for an Imperial Wizard (an officer within the KKK).
A Ku Klux Klan Labor Day gathering in Arkansas on Saturday, September 1, 2007. Members and supporting Klan realms from five different states came together for a three-day weekend of racial unity.
The gathering included BBQ’s, games, fellowship, an award ceremony and a Klan naturalization. A historical cannon was fired every hour on the hour during daylight hours, until local neighbors complained. Saturday evening closed with a cross lighting ceremony which, according to Klan beliefs, dispels darkness and ignorance. Due to a statewide burn ban, the lighting was done with Christmas tree lights.
Affirmative Action” tee-shirt, depicting a young Klansman urinating on a young black person eating a watermelon.
Cross lighting ceremony. Virginia.
Carl, an Imperial Wizard of a southern-based Ku Klux Klan realm, takes aim with a pellet gun
The son of an Imperial Wizard of a North Carolina based Klan realm.
The granddaughter of an Imperial Wizard of a southern-based Klan realm. “More often than not, truth and comfort are antagonistic bedfellows, and as they should be, should we refuse to see the world and humanity as it is. But it is only from that place of truth that we can walk forward, in whatever capacity, and deal with what is, rather than the illusion of what we want it to be. Simple or complex, masked or unmasked, both individuals within and outside of a group dynamic, such as the Ku Klux Klan or white separatists, should be seen in the light of day, and they will be who they are, with or without our judgment. Society can’t have it both ways; we can’t pick and choose who has the enviable right to free speech. It’s everyone’s right. Disliking someone different from you is not a rights violation; it’s lost opportunity.”
During this station of the naturalization, the blindfolded candidate is guided to stand on a chair as a noose is placed upon his neck and tightened. The person is then asked if he/she trusts the noose-man and is instructed to step off the chair in an act of faith. Throughout the rituals, proposed Klansmen/Klanswomen are blindfolded, and then with one arm placed on the shoulder of the person before them, they are led through the woods at a sometimes-vigorous pace. The link is not to be broken as they are questioned on Klan history and intimidated occasionally with the sound of a firearm.
According to Klan beliefs, the “hazing” actually has symbolic purpose, and builds mutual trust, loyalty and reveals personal bravery and dedication.
At her busiest, Momma Ruth was sewing one robe a day on average and could work 70 to 94 hours a week. After having two strokes, she’s had a difficult time keeping up that pace and has since slowed down production.
A confrontation immediately following a rally hosted by The Mississippi White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at the Lee county courthouse in Tupelo, Mississippi on Saturday, October 20th, 2007. The protest was against illegal immigration and local sex offenders, and supported putting prayers back in school. The rally included several Klan groups, including the Brotherhood of the Klans, Georgia Knightriders, Bayou Knights, MKA and the International Knights.
The last time the Klan made any major appearance in Tupelo was in the 1970’s. The Klan marched down Main Street with the United States National Guard protecting citizens on either side.
A black “Cabbage Patch” doll hangs by noose at the home of Mississippi Klansman.
Members of The Knights Party during a break at the annual congress. Harrison, Arkansas.
At the home of Imperial Wizard Dennis Labonate, shortly before a Ku Klux Klan naturalization ceremony.