It’s no secret that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has some issues appealing to minority voters. Trump is polling with a 94 percent unfavorability rating among minorities, and the causes are myriad. It could be his proposal to build a wall along the border and have Mexico pick up the tab, his vow to ban Muslim immigrants from entering the US, or his failure to disavow the Klu Klux Klan back in November. But when a KKK former ‘Grand Wizard’ is getting more support from black voters in his race than Trump is in his, it gives a moment of pause to voters who prioritize minority issues.
KKK leader David Duke is running for the U.S. Senate on the Republican side in Louisiana. Trump eventually did disavow Duke's endorsement, but that hasn’t stopped Duke from putting his support behind Trump, telling NPR that he’s “100 percent behind” the Republican candidate. "As a United States senator, nobody will be more supportive of his legislative agenda, his Supreme Court agenda, than I will," Duke said.
According to a recent poll conducted by the University of New Orleans’ Survey Research Center, Duke gets about 13 percent of the state and 14 percent of black voters, more than Trump gets nationally.
For the sake of fairness, it's important to note that the poll had a few important factors: It was taken via landline only, which means that those who exclusively use cellphones were excluded, and the poll only mentioned Duke, and didn't mention Trump. Fourteen percent polling is still very low, but ultimately, the contrast is blaring, at least compared to Trump.
To some, this may make no sense at all, to see a former KKK leader gaining any support from the African-American community. According to Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett Price III, it comes down to two words: historical amnesia. “One of the things… that we need to do, as African-American parents and grandparents is, as painful as it is… we need to pass that story and the history down,” Monroe said during Boston Public Radio’s weekly segment, All Revved Up. “A lot of times we don’t want to do that, because we don’t want to dampen their spirits.”
“It’s definitely not taught in school,” Price added.
The hesitancy to teach the history of what men like David Duke have done comes from a place of protection, Monroe said. “We don’t want to have a sort of ‘black ceiling’ for them,” she said. “There’s a black ceiling in America, at a time when you’ve got Barack Obama who is president of the United States, and at the same time these are sort of jarring images, you’re seeing black men being gunned down in the streets of America. So it’s kind of hard to say, well let me just sit down and tell you about the history here.”
Emmett G. Price III is a Professor and the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of the Black Christian Experience at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes for Huffington Post and Bay Windows. To hear their full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.