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I shook hands with a Klansman

AS THE POLISHED brass elevator doors closed, she pressed her back against the side wall. She was traditionally pretty, this legislative page, as most of the young female pages were. Her navy blue blazer fit well, although it bunched as she drew in her shoulders. She was probably a sorority girl or a political science major, or both.

I nodded in silent greeting. Perhaps she assessed me, too, with my hippie-long hair tied in a ponytail, no make-up, T-shirt, and jeans. Just another random student worker. An English major, she might have thought, or something in the hard sciences.

We were alone on a long ride along the 34 floors of the state capitol building.

She glanced at me, her eyes troubled, her expression grim. “David Duke wants me to go to his office,” she said.

For those who aren’t familiar with that name, or whose recollections are vague, David Duke became nationally famous after running for Louisiana’s governor in 1991. He had a documented past of carrying books and posters bearing Nazi swastikas while a student at Louisiana State University, served as the Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and was the founding president of the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

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