June 20, 2020
Reading the June 13th article “Petition Started to Change The Name Of Todd George Parkway”. The article states as fact that Todd George “was also an active member of the Klu Klux Klan”. (Ignoring that it should be “Ku Klux Klan”).
It would be helpful for your readers to know that there is considerable doubt whether Todd George was a member of the Klan.
The Historical Society of Lee’s Summit and Museum recently (June 9th) said: “We are aware of evidence supporting both that Mr. George was and was not a member of the Klan. Anything more will require substantial additional research and still may not come up with anything definitive.”
Doing some research, I found this James Aylward interview in the Truman Library archives: https://www.trumanlibrary.gov/library/oral-histories/aylward
He remarks (pages 178-180) on a conversation that he had with Todd George. Quoting some of it…
“Mr. Todd George, who lives out around Lee’s Summit, Missouri–and he’s in his nineties now–he was actively engaged in politics for years; one time he served as a county officeholder. He told me this story in the presence of John Miller– “
…”So (Harry) Truman and Roger Sermon and Vivian Truman contacted George, who was not a member of the Klan, but he had a close relationship with the Grand Kleagle, the person in charge of such klaverns, “…
…’And he (Todd George) went up the staircase and he rapped on the door and they had one of those small keyhole peepholes, and the inside guard came to the door and he said he wanted to get inside to see the Kleagle. The guard said, “Are you a member?”
He (Todd George) said, “No, I’m not.”
The statement in the Petition in your article was reportedly based on one assertion in a published book, (David McCullough’s “Truman,”) without supporting documentation. Merriah Hamaker recently provided some links that are indirect and unsupported.
The petition is about renaming one of our major streets from honoring someone with clear ties to Lee’s Summit, to a notable person who had no such ties.
Before even considering a petition such as this, I personally would like to know the facts. Is there proof that Todd George was a member of the KKK?
Dale E. Coy, Lee’s Summit