Just last year, Ken Parker partook in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, accompanied by hundreds of other white nationalists. He proudly wore the uniform of an American neo-Nazi group.
While holding up his green KKK robe in a recent interview with NBC, Parker pointed to the mask and said, “I think it cost $170, and I never got eyeholes on my hood. I didn’t hide behind anything. I stood behind what I believed.”
But being a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan wasn’t quite enough for Parker, who later proclaimed himself a Nazi and even had a swastika tattooed on his chest.
“The Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me so I decided to become a Nazi,” he told NBC.
When asked why he decided that “whiteness,” of all things, was something he identified with so strongly, Parker said, “I had gotten out of the Navy. It was really hard to get a job. It’s really easy to blame it on somebody else. You know, we have people with darker skin in our country taking my job.”
But just seven months after that rally, Parker bumped into a man that would radically change the course of his life.
That man was a black pastor who invited him and his fiancée to go to church. As one of only three white people in a 70-person congregation of black people, Parker was sure that he’d be judged.
Instead, he was welcomed with love and open arms, and it completely broke him free in his spirit. The hate he harbored in his heart for so long disappeared and was replaced with love for God and people of all races.
When asked if there’s one thing he’d like to say to the people he may have offended or hurt, he replied, “I wanna say I’m sorry. I know I spread hate and discontent; probably made little kids scared to sleep in their own bed.”
Surrounded by a mix of black and white congregants, Parker even made the bold decision to get baptized.
He now hopes that he can move forward, undoing the hurt that he caused so many through embracing the world with love.
See more from Ken Parker’s story in the NBC interview below:
This man attended last year’s deadly Charlottesville rally. Then a black pastor changed his life. https://nbcnews.to/2MbTFSk
Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Friday, August 10, 2018