Love mea culpa
Last month, The Connection featured Charleys Gurley Love and his wife Dr. Minnie Celia Francesca Love in “To Sedalia with Love.” We chronicled their lives together and Minnie Love’s work following her husband’s death, including her accomplishments in the medical field, her activism in women’s suffrage, her participation in local government and her involvement in charitable causes.
What we were remiss in reporting was a more controversial side of Love’s activism, notably her membership in the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) and her fervor about the field of eugenics. These omissions were not intentional on the part of The Connection. Nevertheless, they are significant issues worthy of consideration when examining Love’s contributions to society and her place in history.
Some contend that joining the Ku Klux Klan at that time was ostensibly a necessity to gain support in the political classes, much like former Denver Mayor Benjamin Stapleton’s membership in that same decade. Others assert that Love’s membership in the WKKK was more than just a political expedient, noting she attained the Klan title of “Excellent Commander.”
Bringing additional historical scrutiny, Love was an ardent proponent in the field of eugenics – a belief system that aims to engineer the human population by selectively promoting characteristics deemed to be superior and eliminating those deemed to be inferior.
In 1925, as an elected representative to the Colorado State Legislature, Love sponsored a bill supporting compulsory sterilization of Colorado’s “unfit citizens.” Although the bill never passed, evidence exists that the practice was pervasive in state-run institutions. In Colorado courtrooms today, cases are still being heard and statutes revised to address the many complexities of the issue.
While Love’s affiliations and actions may cause one to question her motives, no doubt remains she was a very driven woman of her time.