A reported member of the white nationalist Council of Conservative Citizens is running for a seat on a suburban Kansas City, Mo., school board on a platform that includes “removing materials that promote racial diversity” in a district that is becoming increasingly diverse.
The candidate, Edward Stephens, a 25-year-old electrical engineer, came in fifth – dead last – with 5% of the vote when he first ran for a seat on the seven-member Park Hill School board in Platte County in 2012. A candidate who dropped out of the race before the election even got more votes than Stephens.
Students of color make up nearly 30% of the district as families flee the crumbling Kansas City school system. “Diversity has doubled in the last 15 years,” Park Hill School district spokeswoman, Nicole Kirby, told Hatewatch today. “The district supports diversity and making sure we are respecting students across all backgrounds.”
The Council’s newspaper, Citizen’s Informer, regularly publishes articles condemning “race mixing,” decrying the evils of illegal immigration, and lamenting the decline of white, European civilization. The group’s website once described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” Created in 1985, the Council is the modern reincarnation of the old White Citizens Councils, which were formed in the 1950s and 1960s to battle school desegregation in the South.
“As a Christian and Freemason, Edward is one of us,” the Council recently announced as it introduced Stephens to readers of its website. The announcement specifically described Stephens as a Council “member.”
Stephens could not be immediately reached for comment. In his campaign literature, he says he has a “heart-felt” desire to “produce the best possible future leaders of our community.”
Stephens, who grew up in Platte County and graduated from Park Hill High School in 2006 before earning a B.S. degree from Missouri University of Science & Technology, also calls for no new taxes and teaching “a pro-America agenda in our classrooms.”
Kirby, the district spokeswoman, said Stephens had also applied to finish the term of a board member who had resigned earlier in the year. “He was not selected,” she said.
In an interview last year with The Pitch, a weekly alternative newspaper in Kansas City, Stephens talked about some of his hopes for Park Hill, one of the best school districts in the state. According to the paper, Stephens said there was too much emphasis on Native American history in the schools.
“We should focus more as a district on programs that are going to focus on, basically, the white men that founded this country and built this country,” he told the paper. The headline on the story was “Park Hill’s school-board race has a great white dope: race baiter Edward Stephens.”
His candidacy is also being promoted on the website of the American Third Position, another white supremacist group, under this headline: “School Board Candidate Proposes A ‘White History Month.’” The story quoted Stephens saying: “I think we need to also pay attention to the white culture and white accomplishments. The vast majority of the Park Hill School District is white. … [I]t only makes sense to honor those things as well.”
By rejecting Stephens last year, the voters missed a golden opportunity for a few laughs and well-attended school board meetings, according to Kansas City blogger and columnist Chris Kamler.
“Surely he’d have come up with some entertaining proposals,” Kamler wrote in the Platte County Landmark shortly after last year’s election. “Maybe he’d have proposed making the Park Hill South Panthers the Park Hill South White Polar Bears? Oh, sure the rest of the board would [have] voted it down, but not [until] after we all had a good laugh.”
Kamler imagined Stephen’s presence would have packed board meetings and citizen participation “would’ve been at an all-time high as folks came from near and far to hear the racist and divisive comments of a school board member. You might’ve even gotten your own TLC Reality Show.”
The election for four open seats on the board is April 2.