Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America–New Title for A&E

To indicate that its new project about a resurgence in the Ku Klux Klan is a serious docu and not an entertainment reality show, A&E has changed the title of Generation KKK to Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America.

The cable channel also has sealed a new partnership with civil-rights group Color of Change. The organization will produce segments featuring civil-rights leaders to help provide context to the documentary. Those pieces will air between segments of “Escaping the KKK.” A&E will also produce a post-show town-hall special on ending hate in America.

Set to premiere Jan. 10, “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” is an eight-part documentary that looks at the lives of several families involved with the KKK, and efforts to help some members of those families extricate themselves from the hate group. It also examines the way that the Klan encourages the indoctrination and recruitment of children.

“This what happens behind the scenes and how hate groups evolve and continue,” Rob Sharenow, executive vice president and general manager of A&E, told Variety. “That was really the focus of the entire series.”

That message, however, became muddled shortly after A&E announced the series on Sunday. Despite endorsements from civil rights leaders associated with the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and Black Lives Matter, criticism of the series, driven largely by people who had not seen it, mounted online.

Actors Wendell Pierce and Ellen Pompeo criticized A&E on Twitter, with Pierce calling for a boycott of the network. Pompeo urged A&E to change its marketing for the show after the network responded to her tweets to assure her that the series is a documentary. Pierce has insisted that A&E provide evidence that the subjects of the documentary were not paid, as the subjects of an entertainment reality program would be. A&E insists that no payment was made to anyone featured in the series.