NEW ORLEANS -- Former Klansman and Senate Candidate David Duke will be joining five other leading candidates Nov. 2 trying to fill Louisiana's open senate seat.
However, the issue that has many talking is the debate will be held on the campus of Dillard University, a Historically Black College.
Duke qualified for the debate by reaching at least 5 percent in independent statewide polling, which was set by the debate's sponsor, Raycom Media.
"I hope all Americans believe in freedom of speech," Duke said.
Duke said he hopes that is what people remember during next week's senate debate on Dillard University's campus. The fact that it is taking place on a Historically Black University doesn't bother him.
"They gave me an invitation to speak at Dillard University about 40 years ago," Duke said. "I spoke to at least 1,5000 Black students and a lot of them gave me a very polite reception."
But, as the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, with his known Anti-Semetic views, Duke's past has been anything but polite to minorities.
"My organization was absolutely non-violent," Duke explained. "I know people might roll their eyes. There was not a single member of my group who was ever even accused of harming a Black person. I was involved in the Klan group. But Klan groups are all separate today. You have separate constitutions, separate leaders. And there was never an organization I was affiliated with that committed a violent act against anybody."
However, the Ku Klux Klan's violent history is well-documented. Duke also talked about current events, including immigration, support for Donald Trump and his views on the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I think it's causing more Black people to get a chip on their shoulders and maybe confront the police and it results in more of those kinds of problems. I think it's very much anti-police and I've got films where they're saying pigs in a blanket. Burn them like bacon," Duke said.
Many walking in Bucktown, part of his old congressional district, have mixed feelings about his debate appearance.
"You have to allow people from different points of views than you to say their opinion. Long as he's not advocating violence against any particular group," Kenner resident Bernard Duffy said.
Others said their vote will make their statement.
"We're not going to vote for him. We know what he stands for. I mean, it's self-explanatory. I can't really say what I want to say," Allen Phillips said.
Officials at Dillard University said they are committed to building a bridge between people of all races, religions, and ideologies. They also stand by their obligation to host a debate for Louisiana's open seat in the U.S. Senate.
Dillard officials also stressed they had no input in the selection process for the debate.
State leaders in both Republican and Democratic parties have criticized the decision to have Duke in the debate.
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