Career and Later Life
Duke enrolled at ‘Louisiana State University’ in Baton Rouge in 1968. Two years later, he formed a white student group called the ‘White Youth Alliance,’ affiliated to the ‘National Socialist White People’s Party.’
In 1970, he appeared at the ‘Tulane University,’ wearing Nazi uniform to protest William Kunstler’s visit. He became notorious at LSU for picketing and organizing parties on Adolf Hitler’s birth anniversary.
He ran for the Louisiana State Senate as a Democrat from a Baton Rouge district in 1975. Four years later, he contested for the 10th District Senate seat, and finished second.
He allegedly refused to turn over proceeds from the 1979 Klan rallies. When he was accused of using Klan’s funds to refurbish his home in Metairie, he justified by saying that the Klan used his house.
In 1988, after contesting in the Democratic presidential primaries, he sought the presidential nomination of the ‘Populist Party.’ In December, he changed his political affiliation and joined the ‘Republican Party.’
He announced his candidacy for the Senate on October 6, 1990. He was the lone Republican pitted against three Democrats. Duke received 43.51 percent of the primary vote to Johnston’s 53.93 percent.
Duke’s hostile views on blacks and Jews prompted some of his critics, including Republicans, to form the ‘Louisiana Coalition’ against racism and Nazism, which directed media attention to Duke’s statements.
In 1991, Duke ran for governor of Louisiana. He faced Edwin W. Edwards in a runoff. Duke claimed to be the spokesperson for the “white majority.” Republican President George Bush opposed and denounced him.
While the ‘Louisiana Coalition’ against racism and Nazism rallied against his election, white supremacist organizations contributed to his campaign fund. Edwards received 61.2% to Duke’s 38.8%. Duke claimed that he won 55% of the whites vote.
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In 1992, Duke ran for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate nomination. He received 0.94% of votes in the primaries. Four years later, he ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate.
Duke published his autobiography ‘My Awakening: A Path to Racial Understanding’ in 1998. The book details his social philosophies and reasoning behind racial separation. ‘The Anti-Defamation League’ labeled it as racist, anti-Semitic, sexist, and homophobic.
With the sudden resignation of the Republican incumbent Bob Livingston in 1999, a special election was held in Louisiana’s First Congressional District. Duke contested as a Republican, and finished third, failing to make the runoff.
In 2002, he traveled to Eastern Europe to promote his book ‘Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening on the Jewish Question’ which purportedly dwells on ethnic supremacism which he claimed exists in the Jewish community.
In 2002, he pleaded guilty to the charges of filing a false tax return and mail fraud. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, fined US$10,000, and ordered to pay taxes.
After he was released from prison in 2004, he organized a “European Nationalists” meeting in Kenner, Louisiana. He proposed peace within the movement and a better outer image known as the ‘New Orleans Protocol.’
In 2005, Duke received a Kandidat Nauk degree in history from the ‘Ukrainian Interregional Academy of Personnel Management.’ His doctoral thesis was “Zionism as a Form of Ethnic Supremacism.” He taught international relations and history.
On April 24, 2009, Duke visited Czech Republic upon an invitation by a Czech neo-Nazi group called ‘Národní Odpor’ to promote his book ‘My Awakening.’ He was arrested, released, and asked to leave the country.
Duke said he was considering running for the post of the president in 2012 as he was being persuaded by the ‘Tea Party’ movement activists. However, he did not contest the primaries or the presidential election.
In December 2013, an Italian court ordered Duke’s expulsion from Italy where he was living at the time. Subsequently, the Italian police discovered that a residence ban had been issued against him in 26 countries.
The media reported that Duke had endorsed presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard for the Democratic ticket and that he changed his Twitter banner to a picture of Gabbard in February 2019.
He founded the Louisiana-based Knights of the ‘Ku Klux Klan,’ and became its Grand Wizard. He introduced reforms, including business suits, nonviolence, legality, equal membership for women, and Catholics’ membership.
In 1979, after his unsuccessful run for president and violent Klan incidents, he left the Klan, and formed the ‘National Association for the Advancement of White People’ to end discrimination against white people.