It’s a Nice Day for a White (Supremacy) Wedding

May 29

Spoiler Alert: If you have a skinned head and a swastika anywhere on your body, you might want to stop reading now. You will probably find the following post to be offensive.

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I grew up in Cocke County, Tennessee. Where the Fighting Cocks are both our high school mascot and our social past time. In the Smoky Mountains, the underground cockfighting ring was only overshadowed by the marijuana crops, moonshine stills, and crooked cops that grew the ganja and distilled the white lightening.

The FBI has Cocke County on its list of 100 Most F@%! Up Places to Vacation and they make sure to drop in every couple years to update their Zagat report. Raids began in 1969 to clean up the moonshine stills and brothels. In 1983 (one year before I was born), the FBI arrested the sheriff and 43 other people for cocaine. In 2005, the FBI returned with snipers and helicopters to shut down the “Del Rio Cockfighting Ring,” believed to be the largest and oldest cockfighting pit in America. Over $40,000 in cash was seized, 143 criminal citations given and over 300 fighting cocks euthanized and sent to that great henhouse in the sky.

But what really sets Cocke County aside from the competition is the meeting of the Ku Klux Klan on our courthouse steps.

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The Klutzes set the date for mid-January so they could simultaneously celebrate the birthday of the saint, General Robert E. Lee, and protest the workings of the darkie man meanie pants, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To invite people to their party, they burned a large wooden cross in the front lawn of the former-mayor and current-African-American, Roland Dykes (and he thought his name would be the extent of the mocking). The story went national and supporters from both sides flocked to little ol’ Newport to put up a fight.

The Klan members arrived equipped with speeches, robes, and hatred… but no hoods. As a recognized organization, they’re allowed to gather anywhere they please (including on the courthouse steps) but not if their faces are concealed. The hippies, protestors, and winos who normally sleep on the courthouse steps were all armed with megaphones and drums to drown out the “white noise.”

The protestors hung a large banner with a photo of Dr. King and a quote that read, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In response, the KKK assembled a banner to read, “I’m with stupid.”

I guess it worked because we haven’t seen the KKK gather in Cocke County since. But, then again, I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone from the ethnic community in Cocke County either.

The judgement based on skin color, birthplace, language spoken, sexual identification, sexual preference, etc, will probably always exist to some degree in certain circles. But, in the words of Billy Idol, it’s a nice day to start again.

Dear Reader: Did you ever dress up as a ghost for Halloween?

2 comments

  1. Barbara Ballard /

    Part of that was before we moved there. Cocke County is also the chop shop capital.

  2. cynthia woods /

    We had a sheriff voted in that is Hispanic…Armado Fontes, and he has been determined to clean up the department, help fight animal abuse, go after those selling prescription drugs on the street, and catch the theives, etc. I’ve heard he’s well liked and has made a difference here. We still have a KKK recruiting house in Del Rio, probably still have some chop shops and meth houses, people are still raising “fighting cocks” but may not be fighting them in our county…people don’t change easily and there are lots of places to hide in the hills/mountains. The open discriminations you describe are here and I know many don’t feel welcome….but basically and largely, the people here are good and it is a beautiful part of the country to live. We just have to stand up to the crazy. Thanks for the laughs, once again!

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