Virginia is a state with a long and troubled history of racism, from the colonial era to the present day. The state was the site of the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history, the capital of the Confederacy, and the battleground of many Civil War fights. It also witnessed the rise and fall of Jim Crow laws, the resistance to school desegregation, and the emergence of hate groups and extremist movements
But which city in Virginia is the most racist of them all? According to a recent study by RoadSnacks, a website that analyzes data on various topics, the answer is Melfa, a small town in Accomack County on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
How the Study Was Conducted
RoadSnacks used data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization that monitors hate groups and extremist activities in the U.S., to identify the cities in Virginia with the most historic KKK members. The SPLC defines a hate group as an organization that has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics
The study found that there were 20 active hate groups in Virginia in 2021, including five in the region of Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Forest. The most common types of hate groups were white supremacist, anti-immigrant, male supremacist, and general hate
The study also used historical data from the SPLC to locate the Klaverns, or local chapters, of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in Virginia. The KKK is a white supremacist terrorist organization that has a long history of violence and intimidation against Black people and other minorities. The study counted the number of Klaverns in each city from 1915 to 1940, the peak period of the KKK’s activity and influence in the U.S
The Results of the Study
The study ranked the cities in Virginia by the number of Klaverns per capita, or the number of Klaverns divided by the population of the city. The study used the population data from the 1940 U.S. Census, the closest census year to the end of the study period
The study found that the city in Virginia with the most number of Klaverns was Richmond, with three Klaverns. However, Richmond also had a large population of 193,042 people in 1940, which reduced its Klaverns per capita ratio to 0.000016
The city in Virginia with the most number of Klaverns per capita was Melfa, with 0.0024 Klaverns per capita. Melfa had one Klavern and a population of 417 people in 1940. This means that one out of every 417 people in Melfa was a member of the KKK, or about 0.24% of the population
The study also listed the top 10 cities in Virginia with the most Klaverns per capita, as follows:
|Rank||City||Klaverns||Population||Klaverns per capita|
The Implications of the Study
The study by RoadSnacks provides a glimpse into the historical legacy of racism and hate in Virginia, especially in the Eastern Shore region, where most of the top 10 cities are located. The study also raises questions about the current state of race relations and social justice in these cities, and whether they have made any progress or changes since the 1940s.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Melfa has a population of 408 people, of which 87.3% are white and 9.8% are Black. The median household income in Melfa is $36,250, and the poverty rate is 18.1%. The town has no official website, and its Facebook page has not been updated since 2019.
The study does not imply that Melfa or any other city in the top 10 list is still actively racist or discriminatory today, but it does suggest that these cities have a history of racial intolerance and exclusion that may have shaped their culture and identity over time. It also challenges the residents and leaders of these cities to confront and acknowledge their past, and to work towards creating a more inclusive and diverse future.
Virginia is a state with a rich and complex history, but also a history that is marred by racism and hate. A recent study by RoadSnacks named Melfa, a small town on the Eastern Shore, as the most racist city in the state, based on the number of historic KKK members per capita. The study revealed the extent and distribution of the KKK’s presence and influence in Virginia from 1915 to 1940, and highlighted the Eastern Shore region as a hotspot of hate group activity.
The study does not claim that Melfa or any other city in the top 10 list is still racist today, but it does call attention to the historical legacy of racism and hate that these cities have inherited and may still carry. The study also invites the residents and leaders of these cities to reflect on their past, and to strive for a more equitable and harmonious present and future.