But March was, to use our current industrial terminology, a lifelong ally of blacks.
George Guinness as a journalist, Who helped write a recent letter in support of the march, revealed in his research on the actor, March gave a high school lecture on what we would call anti-racism today. In 1939, when the daughters of the American Revolution prevented the black Contralto Marian Anderson from singing the Constitution, she was not only one of the signatories to the famous protest letter, but also attended Anderson’s protest concert at the Lincoln Memorial. When Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Bellafonte were strategizing in New York’s next apartment on civil rights efforts in Birmingham in 1963, there was also a march (King wrote a specific letter soon from prison). The following year, March was among whites who celebrated the 10th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in 1 national and spoke on a national broadcast under the auspices of the NAACP.
Is it Klansman ???
Rarely. It just so happened that March 1919 to 1920 belonged briefly to an organization also known as the Ku Klux Klan.
Yes, I know – but wait. It was a student inter-community organization. During the Reconstruction the Ku Klux Klan of Rebel Memories first appeared and then burned. The twentieth-century clan gradually emerged in the wake of the racist film “The Birth of a Nation” in 1915 and became a national phenomenon beginning in 1921. Never heard of the Ku Klux Klan which was so infamous later on.
We don’t know if this group modeled the name after the Ku Klux Klan organization shown in “The Birth of a Nation”. But what we do know is that there is no evidence that their mission had anything to do with racism, and when the “real” Klan entered campus in 1222, the March organization joined (but not immediately in 2020) disassociated itself from that group. And changed his name.
The name of the Ku Klux Klan on campus seems to have been an accident. Inexperienced, perhaps. The boys may not have considered the “real” clan important enough player in 1919, which deserves to be avoided by the same name, and the serial K and its sound because of it. This organization has no record of doing or supporting racism – and let us recall that in this age, racism was considered so acceptable in conventional expression that a newspaper could refer to a large rock with a racist title for black people.
Some anti-racist activists may see it as net-picking. They could argue that these young people must have known that there was a racist Ku Klux Klan and did not take enough care to change the name of the organization and that this in itself is evidence of a kind of racism.
These are reasonable points. But against them, seeking a fair-minded assessment rather than a star chamber, we must note that in addition to what I wrote above, March’s life also included the fight against McCarthy’s red-biting (against which he was) and antisemitism. His wife, actress Florence Eldridge, was a lifelong progressive. He was a lifelong friend of the philosopher Max Auto, who was a Unitarian Universalist, a group famously associated with the civil rights movement.