April 21, 2008 - Special Edition
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Senator Hillary Clinton Must Explain
The Praising of a Group of KKK Supporters
A BlackCommentator.com Investigative Report
By David A. Love, BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board
and Peter Gamble, BlackCommentator.com Publisher

This report was originally published on Sunday, April 20, 2008. When a story warrants publication prior to our normal Thursday publication day, we send out a special publication email notice. If you don't want to miss a breaking story from BC, please click here to get on our free email list.

Note: In a year of political absurdities, where one candidate--Senator Obama--is being held accountable for his friends and acquaintances and everything that they have said and done during their life times, we have stumbled across a problem. Had Senator Clinton not been as self-righteous in her attacks on Senator Obama concerning his associates, including Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Chicago activist Bill Ayers, the following would probably be a footnote and blemish--albeit significant--on the Presidency of one William Jefferson Clinton. Yet, insofar as Senator Clinton has decided to hold her opponent responsible for the words and actions of others, we pose this question: should Senator Clinton be careful where she throws bricks?

Now Senator Hillary Clinton (D, NY) has some explaining to do.

BlackCommentator.com has learned that Bill Clinton, while president, repeatedly praised the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). This is an organization that many, including some whites and a former U.S. senator from Illinois, have called racist.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, the UDC is a neo-Confederate organization which is affiliated with such white supremacist groups as the Council of Conservative Citizens and the League of the South. Formed in 1894, the UDC limits its membership to women who are related to Confederate veterans of the “War Between the States.”

In 2000, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that "[a]lthough the UDC promotes an image of genteel Southern ladies…its publications” tell a different story, adding that recently the “UDC’s president, Mrs. William Wells, shared the podium with…white supremacist lawyer Kirk Lyons.”

In a 1989 UDC Magazine article, Walter W. Lee argued that “purchasers of the slaves” were actually victims of slavery, while “the worst suffering group among those engaged in the trade” were “the crews of slave ships.” Lee also made light of the horrific and deadly Middle Passage, claiming that "the sixteen inches of deck space allotted each slave is not all that much smaller that (sic) the eighteen inches that the Royal Navy allowed for each sailor's hammock and the slaves rapidly had more room due to the much higher death rate."

In her quest for the presidency, the U.S. Senator from New York has presented herself as a qualified expert on civil rights and a participant in the civil rights movement.

Senator Clinton has also put forth her belief that all candidates for the office should be thoroughly scrutinized, that no one should be immune, and all of the presidential candidates should be required to justify their stance on the issues before the voters and explain any contradictions that might arise.

Senator Clinton frequently speaks of her eight years experience “in the White House”. During that time Bill Clinton lavished praise on the United Daughters of the Confederacy. BlackCommentator.com has seen the following documents and presents copies of them here.

  • June 21, 1994 Letter from President Bill Clinton to the United Daughters of the Confederacy printed in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine, September 1994, Vol. 57 No. 8, page 9. This was a special centennial anniversary edition of the magazine and has an outer cover and a standard magazine cover.

In the letter to the UDC President Clinton wrote:

The White House

Washington

June 21, 1994

I am delighted to honor the United Daughters of the Confederacy as you celebrate your 100th anniversary.

One of the most rewarding of human experiences is the coming together of people to share common experiences and interests. For 100 years, the United Daughters of the Confederacy has maintained and built upon the wonderful legacy of your founders. The strength of your organization today is a testament of the vision of your founders and to your commitment to your shared goals.

I congratulate you on your achievement, and I extend best wishes for many years of continuing success.

Bill Clinton

(Note: these are relatively large scanned images and may take a moment to load depending on your connection speed please be patient)

Click on any of the links below to view the images.

June 21_1994 President Clinton UDC Praise Letter

  • A letter of September, 1994 from Bill Clinton with the same wording as the one above to the United Daughters of the Confederacy was printed on the inside of the front cover of the February 1995 issue of United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine. This letter praised the Georgia Division of the UDC.

    Sept 8 1994 President Clinton UDC Praise Letter

  • A letter of August 9, 1995 from Bill Clinton to the United Daughters of the Confederacy was printed on the inside of the front cover of the Sept. 1995 issue of United Daughters of the Confederacy Magazine. This letter read as follows:

  • Greetings to everyone gathered in our nation's capital for the 1995 National Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Congratulations on beginning of the second century of your organization -- your long history is a tribute to your dedication to and respect for the ideals of your founders.This week marks a special time for the members of your organization to share memories, traditions, and goals. I hope that your visit to Washington is an enjoyable one and that you will take advantage of its unique beauty and many historical sites. Best wishes to all for an enjoyable convention. Bill Clinton

Aug 9 1995 President Clinton UDC Praise Letter

Lest anyone think this organization is nothing more than a group of women in fancy dress who gather for tea and cookies the facts show otherwise.

  • Former Illinois senator Carol Moseley Braun condemned the UDC on the floor of the Senate in 1993. Adam Clymer in the July 23, 1993, New York Times wrote:

    The Senate’s only black member, Carol Moseley Braun, made the chamber listen today as freshmen seldom do. Her oratory of impassioned tears and shouts, stopped Jesse Helms in his tracks as he defended the Confederate flag.

    Senator Helms, the 20-year North Carolina Republican, had sought -- and seemed to be finding -- a roundabout way to preserve the design patent held by United Daughters of the Confederacy on a symbol that includes the flag.

    He proposed language to that effect as an amendment to the national service bill, which would provide educational grants in return for various forms of service. With many senators unaware of what they were voting on, he won a test vote, 52 to 48.

    Then Senator Moseley Braun, a freshman from Illinois, took the floor in outrage at the defense of a symbol of slavery. She told the Senate:

    "On this issue there can be no consensus. It is an outrage. It is an insult.

    "It is absolutely unacceptable to me and to millions of Americans, black or white, that we would put the imprimatur of the United States Senate on a symbol of this kind of idea."

Less than one year after this event, Bill Clinton wrote his first letter of praise to the UDC.

  • As recently as Nov. 2007, the UDC Magazine printed an article titled, “Confederate Classics,” as part of a regular column, “Confederate Notes,” by Retta D. Tindal which made the following reading recommendations:

    “Some books are classics that never go out of style. As we approach the gift-giving season, there are four books that I treasure and use over and over, whether for research or reference or just to refresh my memory of the special heritage I have.”

    Tindall recommended the white supremacist racist text, “Southern By the Grace of God,” by Michael Andrew Grissom, a Ku Klux Klan praising book, not just the Klan of Reconstruction but the Klan of the 1920s, which in turn recommends “The Clansman” by Thomas Dixon, which later was made into the notorious movie “Birth of a Nation”.

    UDC Magazine Column of Nov 2007

  • The United Daughters of the Confederacy have consistently defended the Ku Klux Klan. For example a postcard showing a Grand Cyclops of the KKK could at least at one time be found in the UDC Chapter Room at Florence, Alabama.

Grand Cyclops of the KKK Postcard

According to Time Magazine, Bill Clinton sent a wreath to the Confederate Monument in Arlington Cemetery while president each year.

If Senator Hillary Clinton is going to be viewed as ready on "day one" partially because of her eight years at 16-hundred Pennsylvania Avenue it would be reasonable to find out if elected President will she continue the tradition of support and praise of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Click here to comment on this story and contact BlackCommentator.com, David Love and Peter Gamble.

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member David A. Love, JD is a lawyer and journalist based in Philadelphia, and a contributor to the Progressive Media Project, McClatchy-Tribune News Service, In These Times and Philadelphia Independent Media Center. He contributed to the book, States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Love is a former Amnesty International UK spokesperson, organized the first national police brutality conference as a staff member with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and served as a law clerk to two Black federal judges. His blog is davidalove.com.

BlackCommentator.com Publisher Peter Gamble is the recipient of a national Sigma Delta Chi award for public service in journalism and numerous other honors for excellence in reporting and investigative reporting. The "beats" he covered as a broadcast journalist ranged from activism in the streets to the State Department and White House.

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