Robert Shelton

From Real Life Villains Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Robert Shelton
Full Name: Robert Marvin Shelton
Origin: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S.
Occupation: Imperial Wizard of the United Klans of America (1960 - 1987)
Goals: Restore the Klan to its former glory (failed)
Crimes: Ordering of murder
Ordering of hate crimes
Type of Villain: Cult Leader

Robert Marvin Shelton (June 12, 1929 – March 17, 2003) was a former car-tire salesman and printer who became nationally famous as the Imperial Wizard of United Klans of America (UKA), a Ku Klux Klan group. The group was intended to restore the Klan to its glory days during the 50's and 60's.


Shelton was a factory worker and a car-tire salesman. He also owned a printing business, with an office on Union Boulevard. In the late 1960s, Shelton ran for Police Commissioner in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He finished in fifth place.

Shelton served as the UKA leader starting in 1961, which peaked with an estimated 30,000 members. In 1966 Shelton received a year in prison and $1,000 fine for contempt of the United States Congress, "for refusing to turn over membership lists to the House Committee on Un-American Activities."

The UKA carried out a number of hate crimes during its existence, including the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young girls; the murder of Viola Liuzzo near Selma in 1965, and the lynching of teenager Michael Donald in Mobile in 1981. Because of murder charges and convictions, some of the UKA's most well-known members included Thomas E. Blanton, Jr., Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Cash, Robert Chambliss, Bennie Hays, Henry Hays, and James Knowles.

In 1984, James Knowles, a UKA member of the UKA's Klavern 900 in Mobile, was convicted of the 1981 murder of Michael Donald. At trial Knowles said he and Henry Francis Hayes killed Donald "in order to show Klan strength in Alabama."

In 1987, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought a civil case, on behalf of the victim's family, against the United Klans of America for being responsible in the lynching of Donald, a 19-year-old black man. Unable to come up with the $7 million awarded by a jury, the UKA was forced to turn over its national headquarters to Donald's mother, who then sold it. During the civil trial Knowles said he was "carrying out the orders" of Bennie Jack Hays, Henry Hays' father and a long-time Shelton lieutenant.

In 1994, Shelton said, "The Klan is my belief, my religion. But it won't work anymore. The Klan is gone. Forever."

Shelton died of a heart attack on March 17, 2003 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.