Veiled Prophet

In a much earlier post concerning the Black Legion (and other KKK-like organizations) I pulled up a memory from the ’60s:

When I moved to St. Louis in the sixties to attend graduate school I was appalled to watch The Veiled Prophet Ball. They had a parade and covered the whole event on television like it was the World Series. I have to admit that my response at that time was total knee-jerk disgust without even trying to understand the history of the event; yet I’m fairly certain I would not be assuaged now, over sixty years later. To use a modern cliché, the optics sucked.

Now I see that the Veiled Prophet is back in the news:

In 1999, a 19-year-old Kemper was crowned the “Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty” in St. Louis. The Veiled Prophet association was founded by a former Confederate officer, and Black and Jewish people were banned from the organization until the late 1970s. — Buzzfeed

Ms. Kemper responded with an apology on Twitter:

When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown. The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past. I was not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.

Well stated and apology (as if I personally deserved one) accepted. But one additional point: We should all hope that no one jumps in the Way-Back Machine and makes a thorough review of the events in our lives, especially those when the mush between our ears was easily trumped by ignorance, hormones, and peer-pressure.

Hey, I more than once parked in the back row at the Aero Drive-In Theater, listened to Pete Seeger recordings, snuck into an R-Rated movie when I was only sixteen, borrowed a few sips from my father’s Chivas bottle, lifted a couple of smokes from a neighbor’s unattended pack, and even attended a Barry Goldwater rally!

Then again, if people are disgusted by anything racist, sexist, and elitist, they must really be sick over the previous guy’s White House.

2 thoughts on “Veiled Prophet

  1. Just a heads up: You’ll get the full story about the REAL connection of the KKK with the first VP parade (in 1878) in my forthcoming book, THE FAILED JOKE OF THE VEILED PROPHET: FLAPDOODLE ON PARADE0. Would you like an Advanced Review Copy? I’ll need your mailing address.


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