My experience on the Duke Excursion with Honors 2011 by Mary-Grace Kelly

While on our class’s excursion to Duke University, I was privileged to see many photos and read many impressive documents, newspaper articles, letters, and books that were both eye opening and shocking. This trip was extremely educational because it provided me with an opportunity to see with my own eyes the activities of hate groups in the past and the present.

On the first table were several items relating to the Nazi organization.  The most shocking item on this table for me were the photographs of rallies organized by the Nazi regime and the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Although I have seen pictures of similar rallies before I had never seen the images on full panoramic printouts. These images opened my eyes to how large and monstrous these organizations were. I was also struck by the extreme similarities between the two groups, such as the presence of bands and uniforms. I am baffled that every person in the mass in each photograph truly believed and justified the horrendous acts performed by these destructive groups. Along with the photographs, I was struck by one single sentence in one of the books on the table that stated politics and morals should be separated. I am confused at how any rational human being could say with assurance that these two things do not belong together. Without morals, the politics of any society would be doomed.

On the second table two objects really stood out to me; a newspaper article denying the holocaust and a letter addressed to African Americans from a white author. While reading the headlines of the newspaper, I was left in complete disbelief. Many of the claims were absolutely ridiculous but were presented in a manner that made it seem as if they were fact. For example, they claimed that a women who had been listed as murdered in the concentration camp’s crematorium was actually alive and working. They supported this claim with a photograph of the women who was supposedly once the concentration camp prisoner. Unlike the newspaper, the letter created extreme feeling of disgust after reading it. The claims made by the writer were absurd and infuriating. He identified the Jews as the common enemy and that the segregation of blacks and white would be the only solution. How ignorant can someone be to propose such a ridiculous idea?

On the third table the most recent items were displayed. One of the items was a flyer for an event led by Hutton Gibson. I was shocked that rallies are still occurring in today’s society. Secondly, I was amazed at the flyers attempt to appear legitimate by using a law school endorsement.  Other items on this table that I found alarming were pages for subscriptions to the hate group magazine and flyers to join the groups. I am absolutely flabbergasted that people in today’s world still insist on creating and participating in prejudice organizations.

Overall, the entire experience can be explained with one word “shock.” The many items in the collection continuously provoked emotions of anger, disgust, disbelief, and sadness. Before this I was naïve in that I believed our society would learn from the photographs on the first table and take action to prevent it from every happening again. However, by the third table it became apparent that many individuals and group have not learned from history. I am saddened that hate groups still exist but I am thankful for groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center that take action against such groups.

 - Mary-Grace Kelly 

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