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Senate debate at Dillard University to include David Duke

31st October 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Kaelin Maloid
Contributing Writer

White supremacist and former Louisiana Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke has, for years, been the face of white supremacy in Louisiana. And after years in the dark, that face, once again, steps out into the light.

Duke is in the race for Louisiana’s U.S. Senate seat being left open by retiring Sen. David Vitter, and because Duke is polling at the five percent threshold, he has qualified for a spot at the dais for the Nov. 2 senatorial debate being held at Dillard University, one of the state’s historically Black universities.

The live debate, scheduled to start at 7 p.m., is not being hosted by Dillard University, but by Fox 8 WVUE, who rented Dillard’s auditorium and set the criteria for the debate. The university issued a statement saying they were “requested” to provide space for an undetermined number of candidates, and they agreed as they provide space for numerous events each year.

In fact, Dillard recently hosted the Martinet Society debate in September, which included candidates for the U.S. Senate, school board, and judicial seats.

“One of the candidates is only in this for publicity, so his appearance isn’t worthy of discussion,” said Dillard president Walter Kimbrough. “He adds no value to the conversation.”

Value or not, Duke is causing conversation.

This is not Duke’s first stint with politics. In 1988, Duke ran in the Democratic presidential primaries and in the 1992 Republican presidential primary race. He has also unsuccessfully run for the U.S. Senate, Louisiana State Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Louisiana Governorship. He even has served one term as a Louisiana state representative under the Republican Party.

Then in December 2002, Duke pleaded guilty to mail and tax fraud. He was sentenced to more than one year in prison in March 2003 and was also given a $10,000 fine for bilking his followers—he told them he needed money to prevent him from losing his home and savings. He then gambled the money he raised in Mississippi, Las Vegas and the Bahamas.

So how is Duke able to still run for Senate? This is a question many local voters have been asking.

According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s office, it is perfectly legal for Duke to run for Senate. All you need to qualify in Louisiana is a $600 qualifying fee, and 5,000 signatures from eligible state voters. Another $300 allows you to run with a party label. Duke has chosen Republican.

In addition to state requirements, a high school civics class will teach that the Constitution requires three qualifications for Senate: the 66-year old Duke must be at least 30 years of age; the American-born Duke must have U.S. Citizenship (for at least nine years); and his Mandeville P.O. Box aids in giving him the last qualification, residency in the state he’s seeking to represent.

So given state and federal laws, the former Klansman is qualified to run.

“It’s really embarrassing to know that my school is still allowing this to happen,” said Dillard student Kyandra Murphy.

Even Duke himself is worried about setting foot on the campus of this the historically Black university. He once said in a Youtube video posted to his channel that Black people were less intelligent, more prone to sexual aggressions, and were more violent than other races

“Dillard is pretty supportive of Black Lives Matter,” Duke said in an interview with The Acadian Advocate, “and I’ve been pretty critical of them.”

After the murders of police officers in Baton Rouge, Duke stated Black Lives Matter protestors were to blame for those who incited the massacres. The massacres occurred on July 17, 2016, and Duke released the statement that same day.

“Black Lives Matter is nothing more than a Black ISIS,” Duke said in the video. “Black Lives Matter really means ‘Black Lives Murder.’”

Another Dillard student, Kristina Coleman, may not like Duke being on campus, but she does see some use for it.

“I feel as if this is a blessing and a curse,” Coleman said. “It’s important for us as an HBCU and African-American family to know and get the other side of the story. At least listen to why they feel the way they do even if it isn’t right.”

While some Dillard students have voiced on social media they plan to protest Duke’s visit to campus, the former Klansman and current white nationalist will be there, vying for a chance to replace Republican senator David Vitter.

“Another side of me feels that there is no point to his visit,” Coleman said. “The reality of the matter is that times are changing, and it isn’t for the betterment of us.”

This article originally published in the October 31, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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