1981 December 25

Georgia School Board Allows Klan Meeting in Building; ACLU Applauds


A New York Times article on this day reported an early decision by a local school board in Georgia that allowed the Ku Klux Klan to hold a meeting in a school building during after-school hours. The Georgia ACLU applauded the decision, made in the face of protests by civil rights groups, arguing that there should be no discrimination in the use of public facilities based on the content of the ideas expressed by the group.

The 1984 Equal Access Act, signed into law on August 11, 1984, requires that schools receiving federal funds (which in effect means virtually every educational institution) provide equal access to the use of school facilities during non-school hours without discrimination on the basis of the content of a group’s ideas.

For other examples of the ACLU defending the free speech rights of the KKK, racists, or segregationists, see June 30, 1968 when ACLU attorney Eleanor Holmes Norton, an African-American, defended the free speech rights of segregationist George Wallace who had been denied use of Shea Stadium in New York City; the famous Skokie affair, where on October 4, 1976 the ACLU defended the free speech rights of a small Nazi group that wanted to hold a demonstration in the heavily Jewish community of Skokie, Illinois; and September 8, 1993 when African-American attorney Anthony Griffin defended a Texas Klansman against a state demand that the Klan turn over its membership list.

Learn more about the Equal Access Act: https://aclu-wa.org/sites/default/files/attachments/Equal%20Access%20Act%20FAQs.pdf

Learn more: Gara LaMarche, ed., Speech and Equality: Do We Really Have to Choose? (1996)

Learn about recent KKK First Amendment cases: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/tag/kkk

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