"My Life With the Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean
Thompson's assignment was to create a new identity for himself, join "the new Klan," and spend a few months observing it from the inside. (In the newsroom, the cover story was that Thompson had gone into rehab.) That time undercover stretched into a year and a half. His work complemented a major series on the new Klan. As his editor, John Seigenthaler, wrote in the preface to the book that followed: "To get behind their pious platitudes and expose what they really stood for, it was necessary for Thompson to misrepresent who he was. Had there been any other way to expose the Klan, Thompson's underground role would not have been necessary."
The reporting was intended for these media types: Newspaper, Book
- Fellow Workers Wondered Where Thompson Went
- Reporter Faces No Retribution, Says Klan Faction Head
- Klan Planning 'Banishment' of Reporter
- MD: No Klan Meet; Police Role Denied - Robert Sherborne - Nashville Tennessean
- My Life With The Klan (Series Reprint from the Nashville Tennesseean)
- Jerry Thompson's My Life in the Klan
- John Seigenthaler's Introduction to Jerry Thompson's book, "My Life in the Klan"
- "Under The Cloak of The Klan" - Steve Sonsky - Miami Herald
Effects and Outcomes
There was pressure, including death threats and a nuisance libel suit, on the Thompson family well after the series ran in December of 1980. The larger series on the new Klan, published by the Tennesssean, was a 1981 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in the prestigious Public Service category. (It was not clear if the Thompson series had been submitted with the nomination package.)
Articles, Books, Video/Film
I-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Reporter Finds KKK a Growing DangerDecember 1, 1980
The first installment of Thompson's undercover series reporting on his year spent as an active Ku Klux Klan member. ...
II-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Reporter Survives Sudden KKK QuizDecember 8, 1980
In his second article reporting on his time spent undercover as a Klansman, Thompson describes the final and most ...
III-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Alabama Doctor's Home Klan Recruiting StationDecember 9, 1980
In Thompson's third report on his year spent undercover as a Klansman he describes a recruiting function at the home ...
IV-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Klan "Naturalization" a Long, Scary WaitDecember 10, 1980
In this fourth installment of Thompson's series about his year spent as an Alabama Klansman he describes the ...
V-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Klan "Naturalization" Baptism...A "Silly, Stupid" CeremonyDecember 11, 1980
In the fifth article in his series, reporter Jerry Thompson describes in detail the Klan's baptismal ritual as part ...
VI-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | "President Carter Saw Red...And Then He Called Me a Coward"December 12, 1980
In this article, Thompson describes picketing at President Jimmy Carter's Labor Day speech with other Klan members ...
VII-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | The Warning Was Clear: No Mercy for SpiesDecember 13, 1980
In the seventh installment of his series, Thompson reflects on the Klan's attitudes and policies towards outsiders, ...
VIII-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | I Was Living Double Life, But Was I the Only One?December 14, 1980
In the second to last installment of his series, Thompson reflects of the rivalry between Klan factions, as he spots ...
IX-"My Life With The Klan" - Jerry Thompson - Nashville Tennessean | Children in Robes of Hate...It Made Me Want To CryDecember 15, 1980
In Thompson's final article about his time spent undercover as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, he enumerates the most ...