The “Invisible Empire” of the KKK was very visible in Fort Worth one hundred
years ago. In the 1920s our town was home to one of the largest klaverns (lodges)
in the nation. Klavern 101 boasted an estimated 6000 men. There was also an
active Woman’s Auxiliary and “Junior KKK” for teenage boys. The Ku Klux Klan had
been organized in Fort Worth in 1916 by the city’s assistant police chief.
The Klan advertised their functions and were openly welcomed and hosted by
several Fort Worth churches. They once presented the pastor of Fort Worth’s
largest church--J. Frank Norris of First Baptist--roses as he preached, a “thank you”
as the church had hosted a KKK “Minstrel Show.” The Klan stressed white
supremacy targeting African-Americans primarily, but also vilifying Jews,
Catholics, and foreigners.
By the early 1930s the KKK had dwindled and their Lodge was bought by
LEONARD BROTHERS as a warehouse and then in 1946 sold to ELLIS PECAN
Our beloved late elder, L.G. Lacy (1919-2010), was a youngster when Southside
minister, John Dickey, launched a popular radio program. He was the first church
of Christ minister on the radio in Cowtown. Young Brother J.A. Dickey preached a
series of lessons on the "The Brotherhood of Man" that stressed racial tolerance.
L.G. always remembered the terrifying Sunday evening that the KKK visited the
Southside church at its old College and Leuda location. Sixty to seventy white
garbed men in their pointed hats silently trooped into the building and
menacingly encircled the inside of the auditorium. Their flaming torches were left
on the lawn of the church with reflections casting eerie dancing demonic shadows
through the beveled stained glass. The congregation froze in fear and confusion.
All but Brother Dickey that is, who just continued to preach….
After about ten minutes, at some unseen signal, the KKK filed out--- having never
uttered a word.
This effort at intimidation did not silence Brother Dickey. Along with Dr. I.L. Van
Zandt (our congregation’s founder in 1892), Freeman Lacy (L. G.’s dad who with
his son combined for over 70 years as Southside elders) and other godly leaders
the young preacher continued to defy norms and served the Southside church
Brother Dickey lived 30 more years and returned as a member of the
Southside church in his sunset years while operating a Christian bookstore. His
body now lays at Mt. Olivet.
L.G. went on to play on TCU’s 1938 national championship football team and then
to serve with in distinction as a Lt. Commander of a minesweeper in the
hellacious battles of the South Pacific during WW2.
Our church is indebted to godly men such as these for standing firm against the
blatant racism and bullying of their day.
Hoods and Burning Torches are no match for unhooded Truth and Burning