Sept. 3, 1962 - Ku Klux Klansmen massed in a pasture near Albany, Ga., tonight, burned a cross, cheered racist oratory, and swatted insects that swarmed about them by the millions. The Klansmen’s presence, coupled with an announcement that Negroes would seek to enroll children in white public schools tomorrow, raised racial tensions in the city. The Klan rally drew members of the notorious “invisible empire” from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. They and the curious swelled the crowd on a low hill seven miles southwest of Albany to roughly 3,000 persons. The chief speaker was Robert M. Shelton, a former tire salesman from Tuscaloosa, Alabama who is an Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America. Mr. Shelton, whose speech carried thinly veiled overtones of anti-Semitism, said Albany’s racial troubles stemmed from a “Communist conspiracy.” The Klan, he asserted, is the only effective means of combating “this blackboard jungle that is creeping up on the chastity of Southern womanhood.” The Wizard then turned the microphone over to Calvin F. Craig of Atlanta, who contended that “n*****s and whites are dancing together” in Atlanta nightclubs, adding that this might happen in Albany soon “unless you, as white people, are ready to fight.” Before and during the speeches, Klan organizers appeared to be doing a rushing business in signing up new members and collecting dues at the rear of the flatbed trailer that served as a platform.
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