Bill Wilkinson is one of the most emblematic Grand Wizards in the history of the Ku Klux Klan.

He served as leader of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the KKK from 1975 until 1984. He said he still believes in segregation, claiming he was following God's commands that the races should live separate lives. Speaking from the sun-drenched hotel resort he owns Wilkinson said: 'I don't hate anyone.' He has told Daily Mail Online: 'I never have hated blacks, I still don't hate blacks, I don't hate anyone. Ain't that something?'

But in a baffling contradiction Wilkinson added that he had not 'changed' since his KKK days.

He said: 'I'm just a Bible-crashing segregationist. I still believe in segregation, that's how it should be.

'God has commanded me not to mix with other races.

'I have not changed, I'm the same man I always have been.

Stay Connected with Us

Enter your email address:

'I wouldn't let one [a black person] marry my children or my grandchildren.'

In the wake of the disclosure, he took Daily Mail Online on a tour of his hometown of San Pedro, to 'show how I am with the blacks'.

The 72-year-old – who served as Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire of the Knights of the KKK from 1975 to 1984 - reveals he is now 'happy' living among the island's mostly Black, Mayan and Hispanic population.

Wilkinson said: 'Life is real good, I love the island, it's full of very friendly people.

'I enjoy scuba diving, that's what I came here for, snorkeling, fishing.

'People here know about my past but they don't care, they accept me for who I am.'

Astonishingly Wilkinson – who runs the Seven Seas Resort in the popular tourist destination – says he doesn't believe he is 'mixing' with other races by living in Belize.

He said: 'I would get asked similar questions during the 70s and 80s.

'I am a segregationist. By segregation I believe no intermingling in the schools and churches, things of that nature.'

When it was pointed out to him that many people will be mystified as to why a former Imperial Wizard would decide to live among a black population in Central America, he laughed and said: 'Ain't that something? I don't hate 'em [black people].'

When the reporter pointed out the fact that his views are reviled by the many people around the world, he replied: 'You'd be surprised.'

Wilkinson openly admitted he was friendly with the local black population and reveled in giving us the grand tour.

'Blacks, Rastafarians, Hispanics, you should see me with them,' he said.

The Daily Mail Online witnessed Wilkinson seemingly at ease greeting black men and women he said were his friends.

'Some of them (black people) shout from across the street and make the shape of a Klan hood on their head,' he says, 'but they do it with a smile.'

He added: 'That doesn't mean I would let my children or grandchildren marry em'.

Greeting another black woman he knows in town, he said: 'What's up gorgeous?'

After a friendly encounter, he said afterwards: 'Do you have any doubts she knows who I am?'

On the tour he introduced us to a penniless Rastafarian street artist called Kurt who called Wilkinson 'Mr Bill' and said he is his friend.

'I used to be in a wheelchair and when I met Mr Bill he gave me a cigarette and some money,' said Kurt.

'I don't like to ask people about their past. He's a good person, we mess with each other.'

Wilkinson fist-bumped the man and gave him a Gatorade to quench his thirst and seemingly enjoyed their shared humor.

But Kurt clearly has the measure of his friend, he said: 'He may think that, but that's not what everybody thinks.

'He speaks like we can't all live together, but he's living in a f***ing town where all the people live, you've got black people, you've got Mayans, you've got Creoles, you've got Spanish.

'It takes a mentally insane person to think like that.'

Wilkinson says many of his black and minority acquaintances in San Pedro know about his Klan past – after all he has lived here 30 years.

Moving on he introduces us to a Lebanese shop owner who he nicknames 'The Turk'.

'When ya'll going back to where you came from,' Wilkinson joked with the man in his Louisiana drawl.

The shop-owner laughed and joked with Wilkinson and called him 'King of the red-necks'.

'Let me tell you something about this guy, he is a happy man,' the shop owner said.

'I know about his past, but I tend not to talk about it. He's a red-neck, king of the red-necks.'

On the way home Wilkinson sees another friendly black man and tosses more casual prejudice his way – something he seems to revel in.

The man asks how Wilkinson is and he responds: 'Yeah, life is good, and you? You're a long way from home,' a subtle reference to the fact that his racial origins are in Africa, despite being born on the island.

Wilkinson - whose racial origins of course do not lie in Belize either - then instructs us to stop at a food stand where he regularly buys BBQ chicken for himself and his girlfriend.

'Mr Bill sir, how you doin'? I'm here to feed you,' the Belizian seller said.

'You see, none of these people have a problem with me,' said Wilkinson as we pulled up on the golf cart.

The Grand Wizard

Wilkinson was the most powerful white-supremacist in the world during his reign at the top of the Klan.

He organized hundreds of marches across America to stir up racial pride and recruit more members.

Such was his passion for the cause Wilkinson set up a paramilitary style training camp – he dubbed the 'Klan Guard' - to equip Klansmen with the combat skills needed in the event of the race war.

He even organized a Youth Corp within his Invisible Empire to indoctrinate young children into the KKK.

During one march in Selma, Alabama in August 1979 he told the gathering: 'We want a free enterprise, where the best man wins. And we know who that is - the white man.'

During the demo Wilkinson showed a complete disrespect for civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo who was shot and killed by Klan nightriders in 1965.

It was on the last day of the Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr-led march that Mrs Liuzzo, a white Detroit housewife, died in a hail of bullets fired from a carload of Klansmen along US 80.

Reminded of Mrs Liuzzo's slaying during the black Selma march, Wilkinson told the Washington Post in 1979 that he felt 'no remorse' about her death.

'She was doing an unsanctimonious thing, helping those n*****s,' he told the paper.

Wilkinson said Mrs Liuzzo 'was promoting race-mixing and that's the highest sin you can commit.'

Asked whether 'race-mixing' was a higher sin than murder, he replied, 'Yes, higher than murder.'

Today Wilkinson said he is not in denial over the views he once held, and claims the Post misquoted him.

'I never used that word (n*****s), in any interview ever, they misrepresented that word, I always used "negro", that upset a lot of people, but that's the word I used in all my Klan days.

'Black was not a word that was used, people were either called "negros" or the other N-word which I'm not going to repeat.'

Astonishingly, Wilkinson claims he and other Klan members 'never' sought to impose their values on any body else.

'We're not the great Satan. The presidents of the United States, they had slaves, Billy Graham, he operated segregation in his audiences and it was accepted at that time.'

Billy Graham, the respected American evangelical Southern Baptist minister, has been the subject of debate over his original views on race - some of his earliest rallies were segregated - but not those of most of his public ministry.

In 1953 he tore down ropes at a segregated rally, and took part in the 1957 Montgomery bus boycott, invited Martin King to preach with him, and posted bail for the civil rights hero when he was arrested.

Wilkinson said he joined the Klan after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

'After the schools became integrated they started to have disciplinary problems and black people started to get automatic promotions, whether they passed the grades or not,' he said.

'The majority of the problems was with the blacks, they were not scholastically achieving as the whites did, so they [the establishment] started promoting them up.

'Eventually what they started doing was promoting everybody [all blacks] and I was catching on that they were lowering the standards of teaching.

'That was the trigger for me and that's why I joined the Klan and I did the best I could to find a solution to improve the schools.'

Wilkinson says he was a lieutenant to then leader David Duke, but after a power play at the top of the organization he managed to elbow Duke aside.

'People came to understand that Mr Duke was not serious to the cause, he had ulterior motives and that's when we splintered off,' he said.

'I didn't think of doing it, hordes of people had asked me to because they wanted to get away from him.

'He saw this happening in the background and I knew he wanted some money and I agreed to buy his membership. 'To be honest I did it to further alienate him and had the transaction video-taped.'

Duke's departure propelled Wilkinson in to the top seat and he dedicated all his time to the Klan, travelling across America to address white pride rallies in a private Klan-owned four-seater plane.

Yet today Wilkinson cleay denies he even hates other people just because of their skin color.

When asked if he has changed, he would only say: 'I'm still a segregationist, in the facts that I don't believe that schools should be integrated and I don't believe people should inter-marry.

'Even when I was Imperial Wizard, I was a contractor and I had black sub-contractors that I hired routinely.'

Asked about the violence he perpetrated during his Klan days and statements he made about the race war, Wilkinson said: 'We believed in being prepared, we believed in having our weapons for self-defense.

'There was a point when we thought one [a race war] might happen and we wanted to prepare, but let me tell you, people say that we were the most violent and dangerous, but there was never Klansmen in my organization that were convicted of any violent crime against anybody.'

At rallies Wilkinson often surrounded himself with 'nighthawks' - Klan security guards toting sub-machine guns and sawed-off shotguns.

In a 1980 interview with the Associated Press he was a little more forthright about the Klan's violent intentions: 'If the fact that I say we're going to defend ourselves by any means is violent, then I'm violent.

'If the fact that I say we're facing a race war in this country is violent, then I'm violent.'

Asked if he was comfortable being a hated man, even today, Wilkinson added: 'You might be surprised how few people hated me.

'I don't take that personally, I believe in freedom of expression and everybody who opposed me had a right to say in the right context what they think.'

The liberals' hatred against Wilkinson and his Klan bubbled over at a KKK rally in 1977.

A man plowed a Jaguar sports car into a crowd of 250 people in a bid to kill Wilkinson.

Wilkinson was addressing the outdoor rally in Plains, Georgia when a man revved up his Jaguar and smashed through the speakers' platform and into the crowd, witnesses said.

Of the 32 persons injured, 19 required hospitalization, many with broken bones.

'He said he was trying to get Wilkinson,' Sumter County Sheriff Randy Howard told the Associated Press.

'He said he had a lot of black friends and he was going to get even with Wilkinson for what he was saying about the blacks,' the sheriff said.
A 30-year-old mechanic called Buddy Cochran, who had been drinking heavily, was taken into custody following the incident.

Wilkinson recalls the near miss. He said: 'He didn't like me, a lot of people were injured, all I got was three cracked ribs.

'But there was enough people that disliked President Kennedy and he was assassinated, so I don't take it personally.'

Wilkinson doesn't believe today any of the reported 10,000 former members of the Klan who followed him in the 1980s would be upset in the knowledge their former leader now fraternizes with the local Black and Mayan population in Belize.

He claims he came to the country in 1984 when the US was experiencing an economic decline.

'It was bad particularly in the oil producing states, Louisiana being one of them,' he said.

'A friend of mine recommended that I come here [Belize], he said it was the best scuba diving. So I thought why not.'

He even said he refused to shake the hand of black reporters he met along his travels, but 'only cause they wrote bad things about me', he said.

Asked if his views had mellowed, he said: 'I can't pass judgment on myself, that's for other people on the outside to do.'

Wilkinson says he no longer has any involvement in Klan activity not even from a distance.

'When I resigned I left the organization and that was that,' he said.

But when pressed on what his views are today – in particular his thoughts on a black American President - he is reluctant to open up.

'I'm not going down that road,' he said.

Wilkinson also denied claims he was an FBI informant – a reason some have speculated was the reason why he fled the States and seemingly vanished from the white-racialist scene.

'I spoke with the FBI yes, but I wasn't an informant,' he said.

'I told all my members that had to operate within the law and civil rights, I didn't want anyone killed.'

For now widower Wilkinson, who lost his wife of 49 years in 2013, enjoys a quiet life in paradise with a younger girlfriend from Louisiana.

On his plans for retirement he says he hopes to sell his $3million resort and buy himself a house further up the coast.

'I just wanna continue enjoy scuba-diving and snorkeling and spear-fishing,' he said.

While enjoying life in Belize is good he refuses to turn his back on his past in Louisiana.




Stay Connected with Us

Enter your email address: