Why Everyone But Dillard is Going Crazy About a Former KKK Grand Wizard Coming to Dillard

It’s all a part of the plan.

It’s all a part of the plan.

Dillard University has a very clear marketing strategy that, for several years, has worked out well and without incident. The school brands itself as a community resource through hosting, presenting or availing its space to cultural events piquing a wide-range of interests.

It is a smart strategy when it comes to music and food festivals, lecture series featuring Lil Wayne’s baby’s mother, and other community outreach efforts. But Dillard being at the center of a controversial debate featuring a reprehensible political candidate in former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and state senate candidate David Duke, isn’t the garden variety ‘Superhead is our guest speaker’ controversy the school generally embraces.

It’s a real concern for students, alumni and HBCU stakeholders throughout Louisiana who, at this point in the country’s faux relationship with racial tolerance, really ain’t got time for a racist who himself admits he’s a little concerned about coming to an HBCU given his ‘history’ of critique on black people and recently, the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Dillard is pretty supportive of Black Lives Matter, and I’ve been pretty critical of them,” Duke said.

Dillard is as concerned about it as much as its stakeholders are, but privately, Dillard President Walter M. Kimbrough likely couldn’t be happier about the national attention created by a white supremacist having to talk state issues at a historically black college. He knows that Duke just barely qualified for the debate, he knows Donald Trump is going to get dragged in the national election, and he knows we all have been streaming ‘13th’ on Netflix lately.

All of this makes for a perfect media storm that already has earned Dillard millions in free media coverage. And by the time the debate has come and gone, dozens of headlines will accompany these from the last few days:

David Duke qualifies for Louisiana Senate debate
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has qualified for a televised debate in Louisiana's Senate race after a new poll…www.politico.com

Dillard Didn't Invite David Duke, but Must Host Him
Dillard University, a historically black institution, might not be an expected site for an appearance by David Duke…www.insidehighered.com

David Duke Qualifies For Televised Senate Debate At Historically Black College
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, an avowed white supremacist, picked up enough public support to qualify for…www.foxnews.com

David Duke qualifies for debate at historically black college
White supremacist David Duke earned just enough support in his U.S. Senate race in Louisiana to qualify for a televised…www.nydailynews.com

So for Dr. Kimbrough, this is the face time he’ll be able to use to discuss the stats everyone has been missing, like how five percent of Louisiana voters qualified a known racist to participate in civil political exercise?

How is it that students and alums are mad at Dillard for welcoming a racist who at least extends black folks the courtesy of letting us know where he stands, when folks like Bobby Jindal ran roughshod over black folks in the state for years without half as much of the pushback Duke is facing? Even when he openly criticized racial pride as part of America’s race problem?

Bobby Jindal Blames Racial Inequality On Minorities Being Too Proud Of Their Heritages
One day after thousands rallied at the March on Washington 50th anniversary demonstration, Gov.thinkprogress.org

More importantly, how is it that David Duke just two months ago had more black voter support (14 percent) than Donald Trump? And how does all of this impact poverty, violence, education and disaster preparedness in the state?

Ex-KKK leader David Duke has more black voter support than Trump
Donald Trump's numbers among black voters are so low, he's doing worse than a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. David…www.nydailynews.com

These are the questions that should be asked by DU constituents, rather than “why are we inviting David Duke” to campus. But it’s not about questions at all. It is, and will be about the opportunities for conversation created by the potential and aftermath of Duke’s visit.

And Dr. Kimbrough has to be loving every minute of it.