Exhibit documenting 21st century KKK to go on display at USM

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An exhibition documenting the 21st Century Ku Klux Klan goes on display at the University of Southern Mississippi Monday, April 18.

"Passing the Torch" will be on display in the Cook Library on the Southern Miss campus and will run through the end of May.

The project is by photojournalist and USM graduate James Edward Bates. He said his motivation was he felt it was important for people to see the photos and talk about what they mean.

"When I began documenting the Ku Klux Klan over 13 years ago, I had the intention of beginning a body of work that would have meaning and depth," said Bates in a prepared statement. "It was never my intention for this to be a short-term project. I made that promise to my subjects and myself. I was seeking a deeper understanding of why members joined the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan and was interested to know more about their beliefs and backgrounds."

He added, "'Passing the Torch: Documenting the 21st Century Ku Klux Klan' is not an exhibit presented with the intention of promoting the beliefs of the KKK. It is a straight piece of documentary work that represents many visits to Klan events, both public and private, throughout the American South. It is my hope that the viewer will take the time to digest the images of the exhibit and allow emotions and meaningful thought to emerge. It is my hope that meaningful conversations will follow regarding the state of race issues within our nation, within our communities and, more specifically, within our own lives."

He added many people believe the KKK died off or that it is a relic from the 1960s, but he says it still exists in the 21st Century.

Bates will speak to students from a variety of disciplines while the exhibit is on display.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Southern Miss School of Mass Communication and Journalism.

The exhibit will be in Cook Library Room 105-A, next to Starbucks. It is free and open to the public and can be viewed Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday at 6 p.m.

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