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I Did Not Like The Headline In The Boston Globe

I fully support Article One which was passed at Town Meeting on October 3, 2020 and abhor the racist graffiti some ignorant teenagers saw fit to scrawl on public property this past year in the town.
     However, I did not like the headline in the Boston Globe article that appeared entitled “Once a Ku Klux Klan stronghold, Groton fights its reputation as a 'sundown town'.” It paints a misleading picture of a hate-filled era that involved the entire country-not just Groton.
     Any decent reporter would have corroborated their interviews with some background research. That is what I did after I read the headline. Using an archival newspaper online subscription, I began to look for information on Groton and the KKK. I found the pertinent article on the “Klan battle” in Groton in October 1926. I also found a similar happening in Reading, MA in June 1925.
     There were numerous other articles on the KKK throughout the U. S. in the 1920s. In both of these Massachusetts stories, the citizens of these towns drove the Klan out of town. That Groton had Klan activity is no secret, but that it existed throughout the country may not be as well known.
     I did not research “sundown towns,” but there is no evidence Groton was one of these as was spoken of at Town Meeting. Perhaps more research could shed light on this sorry history? What I do know is that America of the 1920s was a complex and divisive time.
     I interviewed David Goldberg, Emeritus Professor of History at Cleveland State University, who wrote Discontented America: The United States in the 1920s published by Johns Hopkins Press. Full disclosure, I have known the author for over 70 years. A chapter in his book is entitled, “The Rapid Rise and the Swift Decline of the Ku Klux Klan.”
     Professor Goldberg told me in a phone interview, that following WWI, there was a lot of anti-immigrant, anti-foreign, anti-Prohibitonist, and more strongly anti-Catholic feelings throughout the country. In other words, this kind of hate was everywhere.
     My grandparents were subjected to virulent anti-Semitism that was prevalent in 1920s and 1930s Boston. My father was expelled from Boston English because he invited his teacher outside after an anti-Semitic comment. He and his brothers had to literally fight their way into their neighborhood.
     The Globe’s story would have been better if it painted a broader picture of what was taking place throughout America back in another hate-filled era. Let us all hope that we begin a kinder, more respectful, and all-inclusive era in the new year.
Alexander Woodle
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