Former klansman Scott Shepherd is finally free. In an intimate exchange with him he shares with me the story of his transformation and reformation. He wants the world to know he is not really the man who spent nearly two decades under a cape perpetrating behind a veil of hate. He takes full responsibility for his choices and actions and blames no-one, but himself for his choices. In the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Shepherd professes, “He is free at last.” And he sincerely thanks “God Almighty, he is free at last.” After nineteen years as a member of various organizations and affiliations to the Klan and white supremacist movement Shepherd a few years back decided to hang up his cape for good. And the liberation he has felt ever since he says is “priceless and a true gift and blessing.”
While I’ve always been a believer in transformation and the fact that human beings can and do have the power to change, Mr. Shepherd says he was never at peace with his outward confessions of hate. He says he always knew it was wrong and the ways of the Klan and the agenda never sat right with him. He tells me he was raised by a black woman, pictured here. “Becky” as she is called worked for the family and had a strong hand in his upbringing and his early years into his teen years before he joined the white supremacist movement. Shepherd says contrary to what a lot of people think his parents were not racists and the hatred was not fueled by a penetrated dogma at home teaching him to dislike other’s differences. Although he confirms the anger he felt as a teen when he went off looking for a place to belong was definitely a direct result of a contentious relationship with his father. He tells me that a lot of youngsters who join hate groups are lost souls not necessarily raised to hate, but looking for a sense of belonging. He says they are perhaps raised in violent or unstable homes with abusive or alcoholic parents and this pain then externalizes by latching onto the wrong crowds or hate groups offering brotherhood and camaraderie to the vulnerable and weak. This is exactly what the Klan and white supremacist movement offered him. And as a young teenager who was lost, he finally felt what he had been seeking, a strong feeling of belonging.
We had gone back and forth for months before finally linking up for an in-depth and intimate conversation about how, where and why he joined the movement. He was very candid and I’m truly grateful to have had the time to speak to him and learn his story of pain, hate, self-examination, shame and revival into wholeness and love. I commend him for his courage to speak, share and free himself of his burdens of his past hate and see the world through eyes of love and light. He is a complete total embodiment of transformation and what we human beings are capable of. Change is truly available to us.
Here are the highlights of my exchange with him.