Robert Shelton (Ku Klux Klan)

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For other people named Robert Shelton, see Robert Shelton (disambiguation).

Robert Marvin Shelton (June 12, 1929 – March 17, 2003) was a former car-tire salesman who became nationally famous as the Imperial Wizard of United Klans of America (UKA), a Ku Klux Klan group.

Shelton served as the UKA leader starting in 1961, which peaked with an estimated 30,000.[1] In 1966 Shelton received a year in prison and $1,000 fine for contempt of the United States Congress, "for refusing to turn over membership lists to the House Committee on Un-American Activities."[1]

In 1984 James Knowles, a UKA member of the UKA's Klavern 900 in Mobile, was convicted of the 1981 murder of Michael Donald.[2] At trial Knowles said he and Henry Hays killed Donald "in order to show Klan strength in Alabama."[2] In 1987 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought a civil case, on behalf of the victim's family, against the United Klans of America for being responsible in the lynching of Donald, a 19-year-old black man.[3] Unable to come up with the $7 million awarded by a jury, the UKA was forced to turn over its national headquarters to Donald's mother, who then sold it.[4] During the civil trial Knowles said he was "carrying out the orders" of Bennie Jack Hays, Henry Hays' father and a long-time Shelton lieutenant.[2]

In 1994, Shelton said, "The Klan is my belief, my religion. But it won't work anymore. The Klan is gone. Forever."[1]

In the late 1960s, Shelton ran for Police Commissioner in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He finished in fifth place. He died of a heart attack in Tuscaloosa.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Robert Shelton, 73, Leader of Big Klan Faction". New York Times. March 20, 2003. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Emergence of the UKA". Anti-Defamation League. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  3. ^ "Donald v. United Klans of America". Southern Poverty Law Center. 1988. Retrieved 2007-09-18. 
  4. ^ Morris Dees and Steve Fiffer. Hate on Trial: The Case Against America's Most Dangerous Neo-Nazi. Villard Books, 1993. page 11

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Preceded by
Eldon Edwards
Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan
1960 – 1987
Succeeded by
none (UKA disbanded)