CLAIM: ALABAMA LAWMAKER CALLED OUT FOR ATTENDING KKK CELEBRATION
After five weeks of investigative research into General Nathan Forrest’s involvement into the Ku Klux Klan and conducting interviews of party attendees, we have come to the conclusion this article is inaccurate.
FACT CHECK DETAILS:
Factual Inaccurate, Inadequate Support and Click Bait Headline
Representative Dismukes never attended a KKK celebration according to witnesses to attended the party. Witness interviews can be viewed below.
The writer does not provide any support that Representative Dismukes attended a celebration for the KKK.
Click Bait Headline
“ALABAMA LAWMAKER CALLED OUT FOR ATTENDING KKK CELEBRATION” is nothing more than click bait for the reader because the article is factually inaccurate and provides no support for its headline.
ARTHUR: STAFF, ABC 33/40 NEWS, Birmingham, AL – Sinclair Broadcast Group
INVESTIGATORS FACT FINDINGS:
INVESTIGATOR QUESTION: What did Will Dismukes post say?
SOURCE: FACEBOOK, Saturday, July 25, 2020
Representative Dismukes says he attended a birthday celebration for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest and not one for the Klu Klux Klan according to his post. FACT.
The event is a fundraising event held on Nathan Bedford Forrest’s birthday at the home of Butch and Patricia Godwin referred to by the local community as “Fort Dixie”. Selma, Alabama was the location of the last major battle that Nathan Bedford Forrest fought while serving as Lt. General for the Confederate States of America. All proceeds from the event went to the non-profit organization known as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Alabama Chapter Selma #53. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser are earmarked specifically for maintenance and upkeep of the Confederate memorials and graves in the “Confederate Circle Memorial” located in the Old Oak Cemetery in Selma, Alabama. The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes the United Daughters of the Confederacy as the least political group of all those listed on the “neo-confederate” spectrum. The S.P.L.C. does not categorize the U.D.C. as a “hate group” nor does the U.D.C. appear under any of the S.P.L.C.’s list of “hate oriented” groups.
INVESTIGATOR QUESTION: Now, we look at the logic and reasoning behind calling the birthday a celebration for the KKK. It appears ABC 33/40 Staff were looking to make a connection between the Klan and celebration claiming Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was associated with the organization.
ABC 33/40 Staff wrote, “Will Dismukes posted to Facebook Saturday, July, 25, 2020 that he was attending a birthday celebration for Nathan Bedford Forest, the former Confederate and KKK leader.”
Was Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest ‘a leader’ of the KKK?
SOURCE: Library of Congress, the Cincinnati Commercial, September 25, 1868 – LINK
General Forrest denied being a member of the Klan.
“Are you a member of the Kuklux, General? … I am not; …”
SOURCE: The Evening Telegraph, Thursday, September 24, 1868
General Forrest denies ANY involvement with the Klan.
“As to the Ku-Klux Klan, I know nothing about them, and have never stated to any person that I did know.”
SOURCE: The Democratic Advocate – July 6, 1871 – Westminster, Maryland .
This interview was just a few weeks after General Forrest testifying before a join committee of Congress. General Forrest denied being the leader of the Klan.
“I have myself been personally abused as being the leader of the Klan. I have willingly borne this vituperation heaped upon me, because i did not desire to appear prominently before the public in print, and knowing that my denial would entangle me in a controversy which I did not court. Hence I remained silent. I have no ambition for political honors and choose rather to pursue my calling as a civil engineer.”
SOURCE: Eddy W. Davison’s “Nathan Bedford Forrest: In Search of the Enigma,” on page 464 and 474-475
General Forrest not only publicly disavowed the KKK and worked to terminate it, but in August 1874, Forrest “volunteered to help ‘exterminate’ those men responsible for the continued violence against the blacks.” After the murder of four blacks by a lynch mob after they were arrested for defending themselves at a BBQ, Forrest wrote to Tennessee Governor Brownlow, offering “to exterminate the white marauders who disgrace their race by this cowardly murder of Negroes.”
SOURCE: The Congress of these States united, Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States – Miscellaneous and Florida, Volume 13, Page 22 – Published February 19, 1872 – LINK
This volume contents General Forrest’s actual testimony before a joint committee of Congress in Washington, June 27, 1871. Forrest denies he started the Klan:
“General Forrest: It has been said I organized it (The Klan); that I started it (The Klan).”
“Senator John Stevenson of Ohio: Is that so?”
“General Forrest: No sir; it is not.”
SOURCE: The Congress of these States united, Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States – Minority Report – VOLUME 1 of 13, PAGE 463 – Published February 19, 1872, LINK – SUMMARY REPORT
SOURCE: Volume 13 (Testimony, Florida; and miscellaneous testimonies and documents). General Forrest’s testimony is on pages 3-41 in Volume 13 – LINK.
SOURCE: The Congress of these States United, Report of the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States – LIST to All 13 Volumes.
In the years following the War of 1861, violence spiked in several of southern sovereign states between the two organizations: The Ku Klux Klan and the Union/Loyal League. As the Federal armies went South, the Union League spread itself among the people. The goal of the League was to grow the Republican Party’s influence in the South by declaring for negro suffrage and white disfranchisement. Republicans saw negros as nothing more than pawns to to gain total control over the South. Think of the League as the Black Lives Matter movement of its day. Widespread unemployment of both whites and blacks gave rise to widespread lawlessness. Throughout the region small bands of Leaguers looted plantations and murdered civilians. According to the Constitutional report, the Klan was a counter-movement to the League and concluded, the actions of the League gave birth to the Klan. As a result of the lawlessness, the Klan struck back. Local Republicans raised the alarm to President Grant. Through 1870 and 1871 President Grant signed into law a series of acts to re-enforce the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in an attempt to restore order. During this time period, President Grant handed over reports from the War Department about the violence in southern states so Congress could investigate it with the goal of bringing indictments to persons on the charge of conspiracy. The joint committee of Congress conducted over six hundred and fifty interviews which resulted in 5,000 indictments and over 1,000 convictions but General Forrest wasn’t among them. The government of these States united even sent sent subcommittees to examine witnesses in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and still no evidence was uncovered to charge General Forrest with conspiracy.
FACT: In fact, the joint committee in its final report to Congress said, “There is no doubt about the fact that great outrages were committed by bands of disguised men during those years of lawlessness and oppression. The natural tendency of all such organizations is to violence and crime; here it was that General Forrest and other men of influence in the State (Tennessee), by exercise of their moral power, induced them to disband.” According to this statement in the government’s final report to Congress, evidence was uncovered that General Forrest actually jumped into the situation to act as a peacemaker.
SOURCE: THE SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism and Violence, – LINK
It acknowledges General Forrest as … “the Klan’s reputed leader” on Page 14. Google defines ‘repute’ as ‘the opinion generally held of someone or something; the state of being generally regarded in a particular way’; Opinion is NOT FACT. The write-up has a reference page but does not cite the specific source for the claim.
On page 15, “… The Klan was also coming under increased attack by Congress and the Reconstruction state governments. The leaders of the Klan thus realized that the order’s end was at hand, at least as any sort of organized force to serve their interests. It is widely believed that Forrest ordered the Klan disbanded in January 1869, but the surviving document is rather ambiguous.” Ambiguous is NOT FACT.
INVESTIGATOR QUESTION: Party Attendee Interviews (Witnesses) who attended the same party Will Dismukes attended on Saturday, July 25th
SOURCE: CR ‘McGhar of Alabama – Facebook Profile LINK
Question: Where did this celebration take place?
Response: Selma, AL.
Question: Did you attend a celebration for the KKK?
Response: Not at all. It looked like a family cook-out.
SOURCE: Alan Parker, Montgomery, AL
Question: Did you attend a party of the KKK, the same one Will Dismukes attended on the July 24th?
Response: I have never attended a party of the KKK. I don’t even know anyone in the KKK.
Question: Did you see any imaginary .. white robs associated with the KKK at the party?
Response: I didn’t see anything associated with the KKK at that party. I have been several of those parties on his birthday. They are fundraisers to honor General Forrest and raise money to landscape Confederate Circle in Live Oak Cemetery in Selma was my understand. I have never been to party there and seen anything to do with the Ku Klux Klan. I have been going to that party for the last 15-20 years ever since the Godwins started it.
Question: On whose property is this party given on?
Response: Butch and Pat Godwin. She is in the United Daughters of the Confederacy and Butch is in the Sons of Confederate Veterans Those are the organizations and not the Ku Klux Klan. It’s (the SCV) just a group of historically minded people who are interested in their ancestors service in the Confederacy. They are honoring that service. People who defended their homes and families against what they perceived to be an invading federal army, unconstitutionally ordered into the South by President Lincoln.
INVESTIGATOR NOTES: UNCONFIRMED SECOND-HAND ACCOUNTS ARE CONSIDERED HEARSAY. HEARSAY EVIDENCE IS INADMISSIBLE IN A FACT CHECK.
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