On this day in WNC history: One hundred years ago today, two women – Florence Deering and Evelyn Morey – and their dog, Buddie, left Asheville pedaling across western North Carolina and into eastern Tennessee on their way to Nashville. The women were on a transcontinental bicycle (and hiking) trip representing the Fellowship Forum, a national publication of the Masons. Deering and Morey reached Los Angeles in July.
What seems at first glance as a fun story about two women and their dog cycling across the country takes a sinister turn with a better understanding of the purpose of the Fellowship Forum. The publication has been described by historians as a “Ku Klux Klan-allied masonic journal.” The Klan hired the Southern Publicity Association to increase membership in the 1920s. With stunts like Deering and Morey’s bicycle trip, readership of the Fellowship Forum increased from 1,000 readers in 1921 to over one million in 1927. The paper became an integral part of the resurgence of the KKK among white Americans in the 1920s.
Image: Asheville Citizen, January 8, 1922