Local News

Racial Issues Divide Moore County Town

Posted October 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Now a small town in Moore County, about an hour southwest of the Triangle, is caught in the middle of a racial divide that seems like something out of the 1960's.

Larry Caddell is a small town mayor with a big time dilemma. A few weeks ago, a Ku Klux Klan member came to Carthage and filed paperwork to hold a rally on the courthouse steps a week from Saturday.

In their application, Klan members requested special police protection and electricity for loud speakers, which would violate a town ordinance. They even want the town to accept liability if a Klan Member is hurt. Mayor Caddell says 'no way'.

Sam Kelly is a retired Carthage police officer and member of the traditionally black Masonic Lodge in Carthage. Every year, they hold a fish fry to raise money for orphaned children. This year, the Klan will rally on the courthouse steps the same day as the fish fry.

The KKK has been around since just after the Civil War, and those who watch hate groups say the organization is in the middle-ground in it's activity cycle.

Retired Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest helped found the group, which started as a so-called social club. The first meeting was in 1865 or 1866 in Pulaski, Tennessee. Membership has varied through the years. The most current estimate says there are 6,000 active members -- down slightly since the late 1980s.

Photographer:Robert Meikle