"Under The Cloak of The Klan" - Steve Sonsky - Miami Herald

"Under The Cloak of The Klan" - Steve Sonsky - Miami Herald

by: Steve Sonsky | publication date: January 18, 1983 | Publication: Miami Herald | pages: Living Today 1C

About a year after newsman Jerry Thompson went undercover and infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan, he came face to face - or face to hood, as it were - with the President of the United States. And Jimmy Carter, the President from the South, got angry. It was Labor Day 1980, and Carter, campaigning for reelection, was giving a speech in Tuscumbia, Ala. "1 was standing there with a group of Klansmen in a crowd of 30,000 people, wearing the damned robe, standing out like a sore thumb, and I felt like a damned fool," recalls Thompson, 42, a prize-winning reporter for The Nashville Tennessean. "We got Carter's attention when we unfurled the Confederate flag, and he just - well, a red glow came over his face and he really got angry and he looked right at us and he said, 'It takes a damned coward to hide under a sheet.' "Hell," Jerry Thompson says with a laugh, "1 thought it took a helluva lot of guts to stand out in front of that many people looking like an idiot with a white sheet on"

This article features a Q&A with Thompson and reveals details about the genesis of his undercover assignment for The Tennessean.

Copyrighted, used with permission.