Civil rights activist’s events lead up to Klan rally Sunday
Aug 27, 2006 — Floyd Cochran expects to be tired by the end of this week.
The former white supremacist, now a civil rights activist, will speak at several Gettysburg-area locations and schools this week before the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan rolls into town for a protest Sunday.
Cochran was invited by the organizers of Community Unity Day, an event being held the same day as the Klan’s demonstration.
Cochran will speak about his own life. He became involved with the Ku Klux Klan at age 14 and worked with the racist movement for about 20 years, he said. He was a recruiter and spokesman for the Aryan Nation at one point, his Web site says.
In 1992, he renounced his racist beliefs and began speaking out against them the following year, according to the site.
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“It is just fascinating to understand the mind of how the Klan works and how the supremacists work,” said the Rev. Judith Guasch, one of the organizers of Community Unity Day. Cochran is “just amazing to talk to. To hear his full presentation will be very informative and educational.”
Cochran said he’s been impressed with how quickly the unity event was put together.
“Any tourist in town will know that this is Gettysburg, not the folks over here in white sheets,” he said.
The unity event is one of several activities planned to counter the Klan’s demonstration, which leaders said was planned to protest the war in Iraq and promote white unity.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans will host speakers at the Gettysburg Battlefield Amphitheater at Pitzer’s Woods on West Confederate Avenue.
Speakers will address the history of their organization and the Klan, to show “there’s definitely no connection between the battle flag, the Klan and the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” said James Palmisano, Pennsylvania division commander for the group.
Klan leader Gordon Young dismissed the multitude of counter events as “silly” Friday and said he’s used to such activity. The demonstration is going on as planned, he said.