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Seaman High grad asks district to consider name change following Founder’s ties to KKK

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Seaman High School graduate wants USD 345 to consider renaming the district. He’s concerned about newspaper articles connecting the high school’s founder, Fred Seaman, to the Ku Klux Klan.

“All through my tenure in the district which was from 6th grade onward, I always heard he was a Klan member, but there was never any proof. Nobody ever backed it up and it was just kind of this rumor," said Seaman High class of 1990 graduate Chad Lynch.

He added the death of George Floyd sparked a desire in him to find out more about Fred Seaman and his possible ties to the KKK.

“I stumbled upon one small article from the Hutchinson News and it was just a mention of his name and his affiliation with the Klan," said Lynch, "Then I reached out to the Kansas Historical Society there in Topeka and they found another one.”

That 1925 article printed in the Topeka State Journal referred to Fred Seaman as, “exalted cyclops of the Klan organization," a term given to the leader of a KKK chapter.

Lynch said, “This is an entire school district named after a Klan leader. You have to stop and ask yourself what kind of example are we setting for the students in the school district itself.”

That led him to write a letter to the Seaman Board of Education asking them to consider renaming the district.

He said, “I told them that I think it’s a dark past to be associated with and I think that it’s time for a change.”

A change he believes will set a better example for future generations.

“I have a problem with somebody who is affiliated with an organization like this one, based on hate, racism and exclusion, being honored in that way," Lynch continued saying, "Maybe he was a wonderful educator, I mean this is a wonderful school district, but he was actively affiliated with that organization. I think that should disqualify him from being remembered as positively as he’s being remembered right now.”

A spokesperson for the district said the board is gathering community input and will discuss the next steps at its November 9th meeting.

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