Texan artists take over and transform a former KKK building | Smart News


Adam W. McKinney dances in front of a former KKK headquarters in Fort Worth.

Daniel Banks / Transformer 1012 N. Main Street

The cities of the country are to disassemble Confederate monuments, which are daily reminders of the country’s racist roots. But when it comes to dismantling the lingering symbols of white supremacy, Texas artists and other organizers take a different approach: They’re reclaiming and remodeling a building once used by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

A group calling itself Transform 1012 N. Main Street (T1012) – a name that incorporates the heavy structure’s address – has raised enough money through donations and grants to buy one of the oldest purpose-built KKK headquarters in the country.

Located about a mile northwest of downtown Fort Worth, the 20,000 square foot building – formerly named Ku Klux Klan Klavern 101 – has hosted minstrel shows, marching practices and other events from KKK in the mid to late 1920s. Now local artists and social justice leaders are working to transform the huge space into a community center and arts hub that they hope will inspire moments of ” truth and healing,” according to the group’s website.


The dancers of the SOL Ballet Folklórico perform in front of the heavy structure

SOL Ballet Folklórico / Transform 1012 N. Main Street

The initiative began when Adam W. McKinney began researching the murder of Fred Redheada black butcher lynched by a white mob in Fort Worth in 1921. McKinney, a dance teacher and classically trained ballet dancer, discovered the hate group’s former headquarters in Fort Worth and found it was still standing.

McKinney and his partner Daniel Banks, who co-founded the DNAWORKS arts and service organization, saw an opportunity to breathe productive new life into a building that once harbored so much hate.

“We intuitively understood the power of turning a monument to hate and violence into a space for restorative justice,” Banks said. Hyperallergicis Elaine Velie.

Shortly after the couple started considering new uses for the site, its owners asked permission to demolish it. But city guidelines required them to explore other alternatives first, giving McKinney and Banks a chance to try to save the dilapidated structure. Ultimately, eight community groups banded together to raise money to purchase the building. In January, they succeeded.

The structure is in disrepair, so teams will need to carry out major renovations, but the groups hope to one day reopen it as the Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing, named after the murdered black butcher who inspired the initiative.

“We believed, and still believe, that it was inappropriate to demolish the building because we felt a history related to racism, racial violence and white supremacy would be lost,” McKinney said. ARTnews” Tessa Salomon. “By doing so, the reappearance would be all the more easily reproducible.”

Originally built in 1924, with an auditorium large enough to hold some 2,000 people, the brick building was “another form of behavior, movement and police culture” and showed “how architecture is capable of violence “, according to the T1012 website. It was in a neighborhood that black, Hispanic, and immigrant residents of Fort Worth had to pass through to get to downtown, and according to T1012, was located there specifically to intimidate the city’s minorities. At the time, Fort Worth had one of the largest KKK memberships in the country.

After a fire damaged the building in 1925, the Klan rebuilt it. Two years later they sold it. Over the years it has served as a department store, concert hall, wrestling arena, pecan warehouse and ballet rehearsal space.

Color rendering

An artistic rendering of the Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing project

MASS Design Group / Transformer 1012 N. Main Street

The very people the Klan once terrorized — Black, Catholic, Hispanic, immigrant, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ residents of Fort Worth, among others — will now be organizing events and programming in the new space. The center will include a small business incubator and creative space, as well as living and working spaces for artists in residence; it will also host performances, workshops on racial equity and exhibitions on civil rights, by Hyperallergic.

“As it will be inspiring for one of my students to look up and see a ballet class or look up and see artwork on display, it can open their minds to show them that they can do it. “, Román Ramírez, co-director of one of the partner organizations of the project, the Mexican folk dance company SOL Ballet Folklórico, tells ART news.

In the seemingly black-and-white battle over whether to tear down racist monuments altogether or leave them as they are, T1012 charts a different course. As Karen Attiah writes in Washington Post“Fighting and healing from white supremacy can also be about redirecting resources to aggrieved communities and their current needs.”

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