Shannon Wright of the Beaumont Enterprise interviews Mrs. Rachel Pendergraft regarding women’s involvement
Is The Knights Party growing?
Yes, The Knights is growing as is the entire racialist movement as a whole. What I think is significant is the type of people that The Knights in particular is attracting. The Knights has always been blessed with leaders of vision. David Duke brought The Knights to the nation’s attention by working openly with the media. Up until this time most racialist groups shied away from any contact with the media who they viewed as the enemy. David Duke realized that every family in America had access to the television set and through the media our message could be sent to virtually anyone. Pastor Robb joined The Knights in 1979. He was an accomplished speaker and well known throughout the movement. He served as national organizer until 1989 when he became the national director and moved the national office to Harrison, Arkansas. With The Knights getting media attention throughout the country he realized there was real opportunity to reach the type of people which would help The Knights grow and to reach its goals. He brought a renewed focus upon Christianity to the organization and stressed love of one’s race not hatred of others. He has sought success oriented people to fill the ranks of The Knights. An eternal optimist, he has tailored the entire program of The Knights to attract men and women who have a positive outlook on life, who do not view themselves as victims, but rather winners. I believe this is unique to this organization. Other groups seem to surround themselves in an aura of defeatism. This attracts a different kind of person. They may recognize some of the problems in society, but they view our chances of ever overcoming as slim. The Knights has an agenda and it requires goal oriented individuals to see it through. We are reaching these types of people.
Why the Klan and not another racialist group? What is it about the Klan and
its pitch that attracts you?
“How can we win?” This is a question many within the racialist movement ask. Yet many don’t really know what they mean by winning. To some it may mean a return to segregation. To others it may mean prayer in school. And still to others it means an end to abortion. When we speak of winning in The Knights, we are referring to political power. Before you start working for a win, you must know what you are trying to achieve. I believe most organizations or groups within the racialist movement are unclear about what it is they are trying to achieve. They have a plan to no where. This doesn’t mean they aren’t sincere individuals, but it doesn’t mean they have a clue about how to go about…winning. How could they, they don’t know what it is they want to win. It is well understood in The Knights by any member that our goal is political power through the ballot box. It is a goal which seems ridiculous to many, but knowing the goal is half the fight. Pastor Robb always points out how quickly things can change in politics. The Soviet block crumbled overnight. The wall came down in Germany overnight. Windows of opportunity arise occasionally and those who are ready to take lead will have the chance. We are working to build an organization which can lead the nation should the opportunity present itself. To win the support of the people who will back an organization such as ours to lead them, requires their trust. They must trust our solutions and have faith in our ideas. They must also hear our ideas in the first place. We have a name which cannot be ignored. It is a marketing asset. Sometimes a reporter will say to Pastor Robb, “but your organization is extreme…It doesn’t matter how many people have heard of you.” Pastor Robb believes that as social conditions in this country deteriorate, white people will get tired of the same shade of gray and begin looking for the extreme. We intend to provide the leadership they will be looking for. Again, I want to point out that this is unique to The Knights. Many people in other groups join because of the novelty of the name. I do not believe they have thought of it in the context of a future political asset.
I keep hearing from scholars who study the Klan that in most Klan factions, women take secondary roles and are primarily boosters for the men. Is this true of The Knights Party? What role do women play in your organization?
Again, I believe this question pertains to the type of people we seek as members, what our goals are, the direction our organization is taking etc. It relates to the entire climate of The Knights. Because we have a specified goal, we must have specified steps to reach it. It would be absurd to even consider winning political power for our people in this nation without the support of women. Women yield greater power than many give them credit for. Even before it was socially acceptable for women to vote, they exerted their power and influence in the homes. I realize some feel this is demeaning, but we must remember the men who signed the constitution, who formed the laws of this nation, etc and the mothers by which they were taught. Mothers fostered and instilled in their children wisdom, virtue, Christian conduct, moral responsibility, good citizenship, etc. Mothers are able to shape generation after generation. Today’s feminists have portrayed motherhood in a poor light. Mothers are not heralded as the keepers of a virtuous society as they once were. The shaping and molding of a small child into an adult is not viewed as noteworthy today. How many times have we heard a woman say, “I’m just a housewife”. We believe women should be honored for the incredible contributions they make to our lives. Most women will at some point become mothers and their greatest impact will be here. I don’t think this makes a woman less powerful. Mother by mother, ideas can be implemented nationwide. Of course, just like men, technology has given more time to us all. Technology allowed many men to pursue careers other than farming, etc. Women have time to pursue a career if they wish and they also have time now to be involved in social and political concerns. The racialist movement in general is very family orientated and I believe this appeals to women. Women are concerned about political issues which affect the family and many are willing to work for the recruitment of others who share their views. I do not know how other Klan groups view women in a leadership position. I do believe they all hold women in high regard, however. The Knights realizes that the support of all white Christians is vital, not just the men. But not only is support needed, volunteers are needed. Most women are adept at organizing, working toward goals, educating, etc. We want our members to pull together and work for political power. We make no distinction between men and women when it comes to filling positions of authority within the organization. Our families are under attack and it will take teamwork to protect their future. In addition, because we do work to attract men and women who are success minded, our members are inclined to have a positive self image and feel good about life. The men in our organization aren’t of the mindset in which they feel threatened by a woman of higher rank. I have always received the utmost respect by the male members of The Knights. For the most part, I have found the men who joined The Knights to be of high moral caliber, honest, respectful, and dedicated to their families, faith, and nation.
Are women more active than they have been in the past? How has the face of
that activism changed (are they filling different roles than in the past?
Women have always been very active in the racialist movement. As we approach the new millennium, more women are able to be even more active than before. First, with the rise of the internet and the speed of information women are able to influence more and more people with ease. Secondly, more women are operating their own businesses, this gives them extra time for Klan pursuits. One group of women I would like to look toward to volunteer is full time homemakers and women who home school their children. I am in this category and find that I am able to organize my schedule to allow my self to volunteer my services on a full time basis. I think this is important for the organization.
Do women get in for their own ideological reasons or because they have family involved?
I don’t recall meeting any women members who associated with The Knights because of family involvement. They may have been introduced to the Klan by a family member, but that family member might have been a women as well. I think women join for the same reason men do. They have a love for their racial family. They believe America’s leaders have betrayed their interests. And they wish to see a return of Christianity into governmental affairs. They believe The Knights offers a political alternative and solutions to America’s problems.
Are they likely to stay in for the long haul or is their drop-out rate
I haven’t seen a difference in drop-out rates for men and women. I think it depends on the type of person. Some people start new projects and never follow them through. Others may be the persistent type. There are people with positive attitudes and more negative attitudes. It just depends on the personality. When a person joins The Knights they are required to write reports on various cassette tapes and books, take tests, etc. This is to insure that they have an understanding of our goals, beliefs, and agenda. It takes a minimum of 9 months to become a Knight. Not everyone who fills out an application become Knights, but the percentage of men and women who join and then follow through the membership process is roughly the same.
> Does the Klan make any specific appeals to women? Are they targeted in
> recruiting? What issues does the Klan address that make it particularly
> attractive to women?
The only specific appeal we make to women is on our women’s page of our website. If we were financially able, and I believe we will be in the future, we would buy advertising in media markets which would seek out women supporters. But, we would also do this with the men. We would just design our adds differently. What we do, do is to show the participation of women. We always have women speakers at our meetings or rallies. We include pictures of women being active on our website and in some of our literature. We always work to make women feel welcome women to join and are careful to never alienate women. I find that many women are concerned about their right to defend themselves. They want to see abortion criminalized and a renewed appreciation for children. They want an end to the degradation their children are made to feel as educators portray white Christians as evil. On the other hand, some young women are dismayed at being categorized with minorities by affirmative action experts. Women who work in the textile industry are upset about free trade with third world nations. There are many issues women are passionate about, it depends on their station in life, but they all want to see a moral reawakening of the nation in all segments of society, public and private. This alone encompasses all issues, because we believe there is always a Christian solution to any problem.
Does it maybe offer a sense of community/child-rearing support women are
No, I don’t think so. One thing that can be said about the racialist movement is that the idea of individualism is very strong. I do though think it would be a good idea to have advice available to parents who might want suggestions. For instance, there is much on television with which we don’t agree. We see interracial marriage and dating, homosexuality, abortion, drug use, globalism, etc. promoted. Some parents may choose to turn off the TV set altogether. We would advice parents to watch TV with their children and use it as an educational tool. To the smallest ages parents can point out propaganda on TV. We don’t feel the media reflects public opinion, we believe it creates public opinion. Learning to spot even the smallest attempt to turn public opinion against white Christians or to turn public sentiment toward one group or another is an invaluable lesson. This is the type of advice I think parents can use.
> Does the position of women in the Klan differ from the roles they take in
other racialist groups (Stormfront, World Church of the Creator, Christian
Identity, etc.)? Do y’all collaborate with these groups at all?
I believe women are quite active in many racialist groups. What makes The Knights different is that women are encouraged to be leaders and those who feel they have leadership ability are supported in their activity. Also women’s ideas and suggestions are given equal attention. I have considerable responsibility and influence in The Knights. The Bible is clear that in the end time his sons and daughters shall prophesy (preach) his truth. In The Knights we feel each person, as a Christian, has the responsibility to proclaim, whether publicly or privately, God’s message of his imminent return and our people’s need to repent. We aren’t fighting a gender war, but a Christian battle for the souls of our people.
What is the role of children? Are they more visible? Have they ever been?
The Knights is a political organization not a fraternity, club, or other type of social group. Children are encouraged to attend events with their parents and parents are encouraged to raise their children with their beliefs in mind. However, children do not take an active role in The Knights. It would be the same as if we were the Republican or Democratic party.
Is their important primarily symbolic, or do they play an active role? The only active role children might take would be to help parents get literature ready to distribute or something like that. Just things in the home that a parent might feel would help their children feel involved – nothing orchestrated by headquarters.