A tweet surfaced connecting Kemper to St. Louis’ Veiled Prophet, a secret society known for “emphasizing the existing power structure.”
In a Memorial Day weekend surprise, Blacks on Twitter reacted strongly to photos of Ellie Kemper and racist ball queen photos that have suddenly surfaced on the app.
Known for playing the titular role in Netflix’s hit show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt alongside Tituss Burgess, and as Erin in NBC’s The Office, Kemper has many a fan who found themselves in for rude awakenings this weekend: News resurfaced detailing Kemper’s history as the 1999 Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty. While The Atlantic reported in 2014 that Veiled Prophet isn’t technically associated at all with the Ku Klux Klan, its “proceedings emphasized the existing power structure,” and it technically banned Black members until the ’70s.
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Still, once woke Twitter caught wind, Kemper fans couldn’t believe it, and some tweeted out their shock at what was arguably the week’s strangest news.
The tweet that started it all included a picture of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper item, with the user writing in the caption: “So was no one gonna tell me Ellie kemper aka kimmy Schmidt was crowned KKK queen in 1999.” This Twitter revelation took off and led to Kemper’s name trending on the popular social media site for over 24 hours.
Users and fans continued to tweet their shock of learning about Kemper’s involvement. One user wrote, “So…Ellie Kemper was a KKK princess??? And no one knew about it???”
For some, the news was so out of left field, they couldn’t even process it. Another user wrote, “Ellie Kemper being a KKK princess is so random that I’m not even sure where to begin with the questions.”
Many with real-life experience with Veiled Prophet tweeted out their reactions as well, including CNN commentator Keith Boykin. He wrote, “I don’t know much about Ellie Kemper, but growing up in St. Louis in the 1970s and 1980, I remember The Veiled Prophet Fair very well. I was always told it was only for white people. The racial segregation was so normalized that people were just expected to know their place.”
According to The Atlantic, the Veiled Prophet secret society is intertwined with St. Louis’ history and was started by a Confederate cavalryman named Charles Slayback. “Charles Slayback called a meeting of local business and civic leaders. His intention was to form a secret society that would blend the pomp and ritual of a New Orleans Mardi Gras with the symbolism used by the Irish poet Thomas Moore,” the report reads. “From Moore’s poetry, Slayback and the St. Louis elite created the myth of the Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, a mystic traveller who inexplicably decided to make St. Louis his base of operations.”
The ritual that followed included someone anonymously playing “The Veiled Prophet” at the annual ball, who then chooses “a Queen of Love and Beauty from among the elite ball attendees.”
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