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Suffolk County Historical Society employees placed on leave after publishing KKK recruitment flyer

The Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, New York
Wikimedia Commons
The Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, New York

Two employees at the Suffolk County Historical Society have been suspended for two weeks after the organization published a photo from its archives of a Klux Klux Klan recruitment flyer.

The photo was taken in the 1920s and was included in a museum exhibit from several years ago that included what many thought was an appropriate amount of historical context. However, earlier this month the Historical Society included the photo in a newsletter which described the photo by saying that “Long Island was responding to dramatic social changes brought on by postwar feelings of uncertainty and insecurity.”

Larry Street, president of the NAACP chapter of eastern Long Island, said that newsletter lacked the appropriate context.

“There are so many indicators out there about our state of affairs when it comes to Afro-Americans in terms of voting, CRT… There are so many indicators out there why wouldn’t a person know that this is adding fuel to the fire,” Street said.

Others criticized the timing of the photo during Black history month and what some considered sympathetic portrayal of the hate group.

The Historical Society issued an apology saying it was a “grave mistake” and vowed to “realign the demographic composition of our Board.” The NAACP felt that was insufficient and requested the suspensions of the two employees.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.