Skip to main content

Passing

April 2024
1min read


Thank you for the wake-up call. “Passing” meant a lot to mixed-blood me and should to all of us who are the complex stew which is the U.S.A.

My grandfather passed for white in the early days of this century. I come from a line of folks who go crazy thinking they can change the world. Grandfather Hedrick (something white, African, and Bird Clan Cherokee) hired a dark cousin of his to work first in his home and then in his wagon repair shop. The Klan came to say they didn’t want a nigger doing a white man’s job and then they came back to beat my stubborn black relative to death. Grandfather never got over it but he kept on passing. What would you do?

Now I live in Springfield, Missouri, which is the nearest metro area to the world headquarters of the organization that killed my ancestor. A section of highway just across the state line in Arkansas from Branson, Missouri, has a sign of our times. The sign reads: ADOPT A HIGHWAY, LITTER CONTROL, NEXT 1 MILE, KNIGHTS OF THE KU KLUX KLAN . It is especially daunting when the folding sign underneath is revealed. It says: LITTER CREW AHEAD . This is wrong: surely we can distinguish between murderers and the Rotary Club. These are official highway signs. Protest this to highly placed Arkansas taxpayers. You will find some in Washington, D.C.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate