Yesterday’s Unite The Right rally was one Klansmen short thanks to the kindness of a pastor and a friendly human rights activist.
For six years, Ken Parker has been a devoted white nationalist, but recent encounters with people of color have softened his heart.
According to NBC, parker ran into film director Deeyah Khan during last year’s Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Khan was filming a documentary titled “White Right: Meeting the Enemy” during the rally. Parker was suffering from heat exhaustion, and the she checked on him to make sure he was alright.
“I pretty much had heat exhaustion after the rally because we like to wear our black uniforms, and I drank a big Red Bull before the event. And I was hurting and she was trying to make sure I was OK,” Parker says.
“She was completely respectful to me and my fiancée the whole time,” he said. “And so that kind of got me thinking: She’s a really nice lady. Just because she’s got darker skin and believes in a different god than the god I believe in, why am I hating these people?”
Parker said her kindness caused him to pause and reflect on his hatred.
Later, Parker met Pastor William McKinnon III of All Saints Holiness Church, who invited him to a cookout. The pair formed an unlikely friendship. On April 17, Parker shared his story with McKinnon’s congregation.
I said I was a grand dragon of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi,” he boldly proclaimed in the midst of a mostly Black audience. “After the service, not a single one of them had anything negative to say. They’re all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down.”
The congregation looked beyond his past and demonstrated the love of Christ, which inspired Parker to make changes to his life. Soon after, On July 21, Parker was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by members of the Church, and is now having his swastika, white pride and Confederate flag tattoos removed.
“I know I’ve spread hate and discontent through this city immensely — probably made little kids scared to sleep in their own beds in their own neighborhoods.” Parker said regarding his past.
“I want to say I’m sorry. I do apologize.”