Our dad was in the Klan: ‘If you don’t learn your history, then you’re doomed to relive it

Published: March 22, 2022

By: Josh Archote, LSU Manship School News Service

The Boyd children, three of whom are seen here, left. in a childhood snapshot taken in Ferriday, La., lived in a volatile household. Their father, Earcel Boyd, pictured right with wife Marjorie, would preach in Black churches and paradoxically engage in a violent Klan offshoot called the Silver Dollar Group. Photos courtesy of Leland Boyd

Third in a three-part series

Leland and Sonny Boyd say some relatives and old friends wonder why they are speaking publicly about their father’s involvement in the Ku Klux Klan in 1960s Louisiana.

But to them, talking about growing up in an abusive and violently segregated atmosphere is necessary in today’s social landscape.

“If you don’t study your history, if you don’t learn your history, then you’re doomed to relive it,” Sonny, 74, said. “There are now two generations of people who didn’t have to live through that. And so they don’t really have an understanding of it, and how some people hold the old views the way they do and how some people came out of it seemingly unscathed. We didn’t come out unscathed. We bear the scars of what happened.” 

Leland, 70, said their father, Earcel Boyd, “was a pretty good man to start off with. But something changed over the years.”

Leland Boyd said people need to choose what path they will follow regardless of their upbringing. Courtesy of Leland Boyd

“I don’t have to be what my daddy was.” Leland said. “We chose not to choose that path. And that’s an option. It’s a choice you make. Every person has to make that choice. We, as individuals, have to make that choice.”

The brothers recall how their father lived a life of paradoxes. He had Black friends around Ferriday, Louisiana, where the family lived in the 1960s, and once taught his children to treat everyone with respect, no matter their skin color. An ordained Baptist minister, Earcel preached in Black churches, too.

But he also joined the Ku Klux Klan in 1962 and later became a member of a secretive and violent Klan offshoot called the Silver Dollar Group.

Earcel was never charged with a crime, and many of the racially motivated bombings and murders in and around Ferriday remain unsolved. But FBI files indicate members of the Silver Dollar Group were the main suspects.

Read more at Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting

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