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Local civil rights leaders react to KKK rally

7:28 PM, Mar 30, 2013   |    comments
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Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Sr. reflects on the Civil Rights Movement.

On Saturday, Ku Klux Klan members rallied in downtown Memphis.

They gathered to protest a recent name change for several city parks.

Memphis City Council passed a resolution to rename three Confederate-themed parks, including the Nathan Bedford Forrest Park.

Forrest became the first Grand Wizard of the KKK.

In Knoxville, local leaders of the Civil Rights Movement responded to Saturday's rally.

Rev. Harold Middlebrook, Sr. was born in Memphis.

He spent many days protesting during the civil rights movement, with his good friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"The KKK attempts to hold rallies to remind people that they are still alive and well," Rev. Middlebrook said.

Earlier this month, those in Oak Ridge found fliers from a group claiming to have connections to the KKK.

"The KKK is not only anti-African American, it's anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic," Rev. Middlebrook said.

He went on to say, "Racism is not dead."

Avon Rollins Sr. is another person whose history can be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement.

He is now the executive director for Beck Cultural Exchange Center in Knoxville.

"I've been arrested about 30 times, beat, jailed. But again, as young people we took the baton away from our elders because they were moving too slow and now we have a difficult time in terms of transferring the baton to a different generation," Rollins said.

Rev. Middlebrook is focusing his attention on Easter services at Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, Inc.

"They had their day. They put fear into the minds and lives of people in years past but people are now saying, 'No more. Not in my house. Not in my yard," he said.

April 4 is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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