Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Controversial Klan robe to be destroyed

24. January 2005 • Murph
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A KKK robe, displayed in a Howell auction house’s front display window and originally slated for auction as historical memorabilia on 17 January (Martin Luther King Jr. Day) was removed from the window, and the auction date pushed back, after objections from the community.

The Detroit News reports that Howell’s city officials have decided to purchase the robe and destroy it,

“We need to make this point for our city,” Howell Mayor Gerri Moen said.
. . .
Many of the leaders talked about how the area’s reputation hurts the community. Pat Convery, president of the Howell Chamber of Commerce, said she knows of local businesses that are apprehensive about investing in the community because of what they have heard about Howell.

“It’s a real problem,” Convery said. “It’s a real economic development problem. It’s a huge issue.”

After more than an hour of discussion, the leaders decided to start raising money to buy the robe. The 1960s-era robe could fetch $2,000 or more, Gray said. Other Klan memorabilia that will be auctioned include records, pocket knives and belt buckles.

The Livingston 2001 Diversity Council, a local group that promotes tolerance throughout the region, is collecting the funds to purchase the robe.

Howell Area Fire Chief Jim Reed said he could issue a burning permit so officials could burn the robe on the spot.”

Donations for this purpose are being accepted by the Howell Chamber of Commerce at (517) 546-3920.

  1. I’m totally torn on this;

    on one hand I think it’s a great gesture by the city to make amends for its past

    on the other hand, destroying parts of history is too close to trying to erase its existance

    Also wonder if there is a better way to spend the aprox 2000 that the robe will cost to help rectify the past? possibly not.
       —Just a Voice    Jan. 24 '05 - 09:08PM    #
  2. “Me too.”

    Part of me thinks it would be better for the City to donate the robe (and any other “memorabilia” they purchase at the auction?) to the public library, and raise additional funds to create an exhibit on that part of Howell’s history. Now, I am not a librarian, a social worker, or a historian, and you would need all of those on board in order to do this right—it would be entirely too easy to do it offensively, most likely by doing it in a manner that glorified the KKK. Somebody who knows what they’re doing would have to set it up to ensure that it was done in a cautionary, “those who forget their past…”, owning up to past misdeeds fashion.

    Decry, don’t deny!
       —Murph    Jan. 24 '05 - 09:59PM    #
  3. Ummm… yeah. Destroying historical artifacts just because they relate to a part of history we view as unfortunate? Come on. Really. I agree—preserve it in an exhibit. I know there are plenty of museums with Nazi memorobilia. History is history—you can’t destroy it. Learn from it, and stop trying to cover it up.
       —Brandon    Jan. 24 '05 - 11:03PM    #
  4. Yeah, but just think of the number of crosses that robe could light!
       —js    Jan. 25 '05 - 07:29PM    #
  5. If it fetches 2 grand I may sell one of mine. Editor note: IP
       —joe    Jan. 28 '05 - 02:09AM    #