A&E will air an eight-part documentary titled “Generation KKK,” beginning Jan. 10, which is five days before the nation will celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr.
Known for reality shows like “Hoarders” and “Intervention,” A&E’s new documentary will examine high-ranking Klan members and their families, according to The New York Times.
“We certainly didn’t want the show to be seen as a platform for the views of the KKK,” said Rob Sharenow, general manager of A&E. “The only political agenda is that we really do stand against hate.”
According to news reports, the show began taking shape around the time an increasing number of KKK members publicly claimed they were battling white genocide, which was shortly after the divisive presidential election was launched. Presidential Candidate Donald Trump was endorsed by several high-profile leaders including David Duke and The Crusader, a newspaper affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, which brands itself as “the premier voice of the white resistance,” according to a NPR report.
To compile the series, filmmaker Aengus James sent crews into the South. The goal, he said, is to show the Klan at the unvarnished grass-roots level. The series will also feature anti-hate activists Daryle Lamont Jenkins, Arno Michaelis, and Bryon Widner, who will try to convince members of the group to leave, or at least not force their children into the KKK, according to Variety.
The series follows several Ku Klux Klan leaders including the Imperial Wizard of the North Mississippi White Knights; Chris Buckley, a Grand Knighthawk with the North Georgia White Knights; and Richard Nichols, the Grand Dragon in the Tennessee Knights of the Invisible Empire.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of independent Klan chapters in the United States (there is no national organization) grew from 72 to 190 between 2014 and 2015. The Anti-Defamation League estimates membership at 3,000, while the law center places the figure at between 5,000 and 8,000. And the indoctrination of young people, members say, is crucial to the Klan’s survival.
Of some of the cast members who are military veterans, Arno Michaelis, an anti-hate activist who is involved in the project, said, “People involved in hate groups do so because they’re suffering. I really draw upon that truth to respond to their aggression with compassion.”