During our recent Lenoir City Civitan meeting, our guest speaker was the gentleman that runs the Lenoir City History Museum. If you have never had the opportunity to take a tour of this facility, I suggest you do. Anyway, as this man was talking about the history of the Lenoir Family and how Lenoir City and Loudon County removed themselves (smartly) from Roane County and began their own County, we learned that General William Lenoir was the largest slave owner in the entire state of Tennessee. How random is that piece of information?! It could explain a lot of things about Lenoir City we never understood, such as the minority growth rate 15% above any other county in the state. Growth that is changing our level of understanding for different cultures and our overall values as a community. How wonderful to learn these things.
We moved from this topic of conversation to a future time in our history when we learned that the Lenoir City KKK was in fact the Lenoir City KKK-K. Why the extra K do you ask? We are not sure. Why is this relevant? because Lenoir City, Tennessee was the largest manufacturer of train wheels in the entire country and the unions started to organize during a very financial trying time. At the formation time of the unions in the area, the KKK-K was a non-minority focused group who was called in to handle situations in small towns. For example; taking care of a husband that is abusive to his wife or bringing a man to Church that is refusing to attend. So, the KKK-K was called in to manage the union organizers that were halting the production of train wheels.
Eventually the KKK-K stepped in and managed the unions for the manufacturers and everyone moved forward with negotiations. Brute force was used on more than one occasion and the KKK-K earned the reputation they now hold nation-wide. I digress. Once the reputation of this local organization changed, people were terrified for their safety and for the safety of others. This group became so influential and secretive that it was nearly impossible to know who they were.... or was it?
At the end of the meeting we found out that after Church one Sunday the locals were speaking about the KKK-k and by this time the community was tired of dealing with them. One gentleman spoke up and said, if we only knew who the member of the KKK-k were, we could do something about it, but no one knows. His friend commented quickly, I know who they are - they bring their uniforms in on Monday's to my business to get cleaned.
Lesson here: someone, somewhere always knows who you really are. Act accordingly.