“What is Idaho known for?” Attacks on LGBTQ communities are fueling internet searches on the state’s history of racism and exclusion
Idaho has been in the national news quite a bit this past week: First there was the video of the pastor making rounds on social media. Then Boise Police reported more than 35 pride flags were stolen in Boise's North End. And then this past weekend police in North Idaho arrested 31 men from the white supremacist group Patriot Front on charges of conspiracy to start a riot at a Pride celebration.
Those three events have caught the attention of the nation, and it has people searching the internet with terms like: White supremacy in Idaho, Nazis in Idaho. Aryan Nation headquarters. And questions like: What is Idaho known for? Is Idaho racist? Or why is Idaho so conservative?
Having Idaho in the news for events like these is hard. Reporting on these events is also hard. And so understanding how we got here today and what steps we can take to be a more inclusive and equitable place for everyone means, we’ve got to take a critical look at our past.
So we’re bringing you an episode we did in the summer of 2020 with Dr. Jill Gill, a Boise State history professor. In this interview, we start looking at Idaho’s racism beginning during the Civil War and continuing through the 1920s and 1930s when the Ku Klux Klan had more than 10 chapters in Idaho. We'll look at how "white flight" from Confederate and northern states began to build Idaho's anti-Black reputation, and how the politics of leaders including Sen. William Borah supported racist policies.