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Richard Ames

"I find it highly distasteful to display such a rage-inducing article in the front window of a storefront on the main drag in a town that has long worked to overcome it's racist past."

You make it sound like we are all slaves to our emotions. "Rage inducing"?!? Sounds like a new mental illness. I subscribe to the quaint notion that one must expect others to keep their emotions in check and act like adults. If people cannot behave properly in the presence of "rage-inducing" artifacts, perhaps they should spend a bit of time in jail until they settle down. Consider also: If I can make you change by displaying rage every time I don't like something you do, think of the enormous power over you that you have just handed me. I would learn very quickly to get rage-induced on a fairly regular basis I imagine.

And historical artifacts are often "distasteful". So what? Does this mean that our nanny-state must attempt to shield every potentially offended person from life itself? KKK suits happened. They were (are?) a fact. And I also disagree about the timing. In my mind it couldn't be better. What more effective way to remind people of the importance of leaders like Martin Luther King than to have an item like that prominently displayed. Sure beats the MLK Day Sale at Walmart as a learning exercise. Displaying the KKK outfit sends the message that society must never forgot about the injustices of that period because to forget makes repetiton more likely. That is one of the central values of historical artifacts.

I have no opinion on three-headed dildos ;)

Darr

Unfortunately I have long heard from family members, and other "old Howell families" that the KKK presence in Howell does predate Robert Miles. Miles did raise the it to a higher degree, and to a much more organized level. If you were to ask people of my Dad's generation (though until the suburbanization of Howell in the last 10-15 years or so, Dad was considered a newcomer - having only moved to Howell when he married my Mom in 1954)or older, many would disagree with the current party line that those who attended rallies at the Miles complex to be mostly from out of town. People did come from all around for those rallies, and his training camps, but locals were well represented.

When I did my story in high school, I tried to contact Robert Miles to interview him, but he hung up after my first call, there was an expletive involved as well. He was still being reticent with the press and about publicity at that time. He changed his tune a few years later when he started his little sedition scheme. After hearing of my phone call, my Dad and stepmom pretty much forbade me from conacting him further. Geoff J. (the photographer) and I were going to go to his house and try to interview him, but we lost our nerve the first time, and Dad was not happy when he heard about the idea. I also remember somebody on the Main Bore staff that lived near him, but I forget who specifically it was, that freaked out when we said we were going to drive out there. "He has snipers posted on his roof at all times! You'll get shot!" I think that's what initially spooked us.

I also started getting spooked by the resistance I was finding in trying to deal with local authorities to find out info on the town's Klan past. Apparently the Klan paraded through Howell in the 60's, but I found it impossible to find any info on that, either. But my parents remember it happening.

I tried to look at legal records regarding Miles and other Klan incidents, but was refused. Did the whole Journalism 101 threatenign with the Freedom of Information act and everything. Never did get the chance to go that route though, as by that time the nasty phone calls started, so even Mrs. Reinke urged me to cool it. Remember, this was 1983, information was not as readily available, and easily accessed as it is now.

I always thought with more information, and digging deeper, I could have had a better story. But I was 16 years old, after all. And it still won awards, so it must have been okay, but I always thought it felt unfinished. But it did provide me with some interesting adolescent experiences for a sheltered small town girl in the midwest. Going to a Klan rally in Lansing and having Klansmen throw rocks at us (I went with Renee R. and Geoff J.) and a neo-nazi chick pull out a knife when I approached her as the Klan and nazis were run off the Capitol property by the protesters was quite something. And hanging out with the protesters, many of them socialists, was interesting as well. Looking back, I can't believe my Dad let me go.

(pardon any typos and grammatical errors please, it's 4:00 am)

Sara

I'd buy the robe and burn it in the street, heh.. (sarcastic)

Alaina Noble

Hello Lisa,

I had to go to Howell earlier today for a social function, and I must admit when I told my mother and friend they both immediately told me to "be careful". In case you hadn't figured it out, I'm African-American. On my way home, I decided to perform a google search to see what came of the notorious auction and stumbled across your site. I understand that knowledge certainly trumps fear, so thanks for the history lesson.

I'm not sure if and when Howell will be able to live down its reputation - the black community has not forgotten and continues to pass on fact and fable. And the reality is I'm not sure what Howell can do. I'm not saying I would never move to the community, but realistically I am a 36 year old woman who would feel very uncomfortable if for some reason it became necessary. It's not so much that I would fear for my safety, but that I would be concerned about the well being of my children. My parents were trailblazers and we were one of the first African-American families to move to Canton in 1976. I would not want to subject my children to what I went through. Some of it is really quite humerous, but other things are really quite hurtful and I find I'm going through it all over again educating my Caucasian in-laws. I don't think people mean to create pain, I've found that when someone is the "majority", they don't bother to go outside their comfort zone to educate themselves about the culture of another group. They expect others to conform to their ways instead. This can create hostility.

Anyway, enough of my two cents. This all started because I wanted to give you a quick tidbit of information. "Yahweh" is actually not the far right wacko's name for God, it's Hebrew and is roughly translated Lord God. Kind of ironic that a group who claims to hate the Jews would use their name for God.

Thanks for somewhat renewing my hope for continued progress in Howell and Livingston County as a whole!

Alaina

Phillip

Wow, enlightening. Just what I was looking for. I'm looking at the possibility of moving to Howell with my wife and family. From the West side of Michigan, where we live now, you'd still think Howell was the KKK capital of the country.

I figured it was a rumor blown way out of porportion, though it will probably take a few more decades for that urban legend to die.

Thanks for the great research!

Ben Wilston

I am 17 years old and recently moved away from howell to the opposite side of the country. I like to say i did most of my growing up there and in my oppinion the more recent generations of kids in Howell are not racist at all. When i moved from howell, a small town, to the city that I live today it was deffinently a culture shock but in no way did i feel any resentment towards the other races that attend my school, or live in my neighborhood. The kids of late that live in howell aren't racist they just know a life where there are only 2 african american students in the whole school. Its not a factor of racism its more of this is the only thing they know, not hate but just the fact that they're arent large amounts of other races living in they'er subdivisions or goin to they'er school. The more recent generations don't dislike other races they just dont know about them if that makes sence.

Terry Tucker

How wonderful that Ben tells it like it is in the new generation. Thank the gods things have changed!

I grew up in Howell and worked in my family's downtown office supply business, which the KKK leader Robert Miles frequented. I hated him so much for what he had done, and was angry at my Father for allowing him access to our heart and home (our family business.) My Dad didn't agree with his actions, by any means, but needed customers. At least we didn't xerox his pamphlets! But by meeting him, I learned at a young age that evil can be charismatic. That knowledge has informed me, and thus protected me, ever since. He was a hideous creature, handsome and smiling and yet full of hate and prejudice. I can only hope that the proud little town where I grew up can disassociate themselves from this devil. However, when I read recent reports of the community protesting against a rainbow flag flown by high-school students, I was left wondering... conservatism has it's place, but perhaps the ghost of Robert Miles haunts us still...

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