KENEDY – A complaint was received recently at a Victoria television station that a “racist” picture hangs in the hallway at the Kenedy City Hall, depicting Ku Klux Klan members.
Kenedy Mayor James Sutton was asked for an interview regarding the photo after the reporter first traveled to Kenedy to see the photo herself. Her email request stated the station wanted both sides of the story, but if Sutton was not available or denied the interview or response request, the station would be running the story again of the KKK photo at Kenedy City Hall.
The email to Sutton ended with the following: “If we don’t get a response we will keep the community informed that we still haven’t received a comment from you.”
Earlier in the email to Sutton, the reporter stated, “Now the community is urging a response from you about this photo.”
Sutton answered via an email letter containing his response.
“My understanding is the picture referenced has been at City Hall for many years. No one analyzed the picture, no one did any research on the picture prior to your (news) release.
“Like many other items of discussion around here, a conclusion was drawn without due diligence in an attempt to create chaos in our community. Since your (news) release, it’s been discussed that this picture contains members of a Masonic Lodge.
“Residents of Kenedy are identifying exactly what is in this picture and what is not.
“I’ve lived in Kenedy for over 44 years. Many, many people here know me, they know what I’m about and what I’m not. To date not one person has contacted me with a single concern of this picture or any type of racism within City Hall nor our community.”
A Kenedy High School graduate from the class of 1998, Micah Patton, saw the news clip and decided to research the photo and its history. Patton grew up in Kenedy and remembered seeing the photo.
“It goes back to my childhood, I remember seeing the photograph in question and I don’t remember anyone saying it contained anything about the Ku Klux Klan,” said Patton.
His research led him to the local libraries and newspaper offices and he spent a lot of time on the internet, researching the history of Kenedy.
The photo, itself, has a date of 1914 on it, so his research into Kenedy’s history begins around that date. His findings include;
In March of 1914, Kenedy was excited about to receive a caravan consisting of a train, horseback riders and vehicles bringing the Shriners from the Ben Hur Temple in Austin. The Shiners were met by Kenedy’s Mayor J.W. Thames and a committee of the Kenedy Commercial Club.
The Shiners had 45 new member to be initiated and the group was in Kenedy to do just that. The town held a big parade (the photo depicts those in the parade) and a large dinner was hosted by the town for the visitors.
The photo did not have anything to do with the notorious KKK. But, the costumed Shriners were definitely in town at the time.
Mayor Sutton was on the right track when he mentioned members of the Masonic Lodge, but the Shriners were the ones in the photo.
“The news clip and the accusation were not what I remembered. In researching the photo, I found the the story couldn’t have been further from the truth,” said Patton.
It is not known wether a story on the Shriner’s visit made the news or not.