Pulaski, Tennessee: Backwards Plaque Shuns the KKKThe KKK was founded in Pulaski, but the plaque that once acknowledged the spot has been turned backwards toward the wall in protest.
- 205 W. Madison St., Pulaski, TN
- Plaque is on the south side of W. Madison St. between S. 2nd and S. 3rd Sts. The plaque is bolted to the wall of a one-story white building just to the right of a three-story brick building.
Visitor Tips and News About Backwards Plaque Shuns the KKK
Very interesting to see. While you are there, take the time to see the Giles County Courthouse across the street. Beautiful building with lots of interesting features.[John Lawrence, 06/22/2010]
I've been meaning to photograph this plaque for a long time, but I have never gotten around to it. Here's the story. And, in the end, it makes a fairly powerful statement of the fight for racial equality without having to ignore or forget the history surrounding something most people would like to brush under the carpet.
The KKK was originally formed in a [barber shop (now a law office)] in Pulaski, TN by some Confederate War veterans in 1865. For a long, long time this was an "ugly secret" of a small Southern American town. In the 1920s the Daughters of the Confederacy placed a plaque on the building which housed the former law offices where the Klan was originally formed. The plaque thus remained in defiance on the building for roughly 70 years. Understandably, most of the residents of Pulaski simply didn't want to be known as the "birthplace of the KKK" -- but the plaque remained until 1990 when the building was purchased by Don Massey.
Instead of simply removing the plaque and giving Klan supporters a potential lighting rod for demonstrations he simply reversed the plaque - so now only the smooth bronze surface is visible to passers-by.
Today Pulaski doesn't ignore the historical fact that they are the birthplace of the KKK, but they do ignore the Klan's message. And in the end, they have found a way to preserve history without keeping the focus on the negative aspects of an ugly situation and organization.
For the record, the original text of the plaque, which can't be viewed today, read "Ku Klux Klan organized in this, the law office of Judge Thomas M. Jones, Dec. 24, 1865".
I prefer the smooth side, myself![Greg Brown, 12/28/2000]
July 2014: Photo added.