The Ku Klux Klan was a dividing force in many southern families in the middle of the twentieth century. For the Morris-McConnell family of Cumberland County this is especially true. In a story that spans the 1930s to the early 1960s, the reader witnesses how the hate group affected relationships as well as influenced opinions. Opening on the day of LT McConnell’s birth, this novel reveals how ingrained the KKK is in the lives of Wadesville men. LT’s father, grandfather, and doctor are all members. However, LT’s strong-willed mother, Birdie, has no respect for the group, and she teaches her son to be accepting of all people. For example, one of Birdie’s best friends is Sara Willis, the black woman she insisted deliver LT, much to her husband’s displeasure. Birdie’s resolute attitude against the KKK puts her at odds with many member of the community, including her husband and father.
When LT’s father is away serving in World War II, Birdie takes over his poorly-run weekly newspaper, turning it into a respected daily publication and fulfilling her dream of a career in journalism. Because she writes with a liberal tilt and encourages Sara to write a medical column in the paper, Birdie captures the attention of the local KKK. When she and her friends find suspicious fires set on their properties, they persuade LT, who is now a Duke medical student, to infiltrate the KKK so that they will be aware of the group’s next move. Tricking his grandfather into believing that he disagrees with his mother’s “socialist” ideas, LT joins the KKK and learns that members plan to burn down Sara’s house – with her in it. With the help of the FBI, LT is able to protect his mother and her friends from danger and to shut down the local KKK. LT and Birdie are willing to take a stand against the hate group, even if it means going against his or her father’s wishes and putting their lives in peril.
The Evil That Men Do is Edward Vaughn’s first novel in his “Cumberland County Series.”
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.