Sousaphone vs. the KKK: One man's twist on peaceful protest

One man's 'marching tuba' turned a KKK rally into a musical event. 

What is a sousaphone anyway?

It’s a marching tuba, at least that’s what Matt Buck would tell you. Mr. Buck joined a group of counter-protestors at a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally in Columbia, S.C. last weekend, sousaphone in tow.  And in a oddly comedic moment, the world was left to watch an encounter between a tuba and the white supremacist group – unlikely opponents.

“I didn’t really know how to show my opposition, so that was my way of doing it,” Buck told the Charleston City Paper.

A video shows him walking along the sidewalk playing tunes like Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” which he said he picked due to its use in the Nazi chase scene from "The Blues Brothers." All while Confederate flag defenders walked down the street, giving him uneasy glances and exchanging a few words. But, all in all, the musical protest was peaceful.

The video had almost four and a half million views as of Thursday morning and over 850 comments. One person said, “The world needs more sousaphone.” Another simply wrote, “LEGEND.” Some were critical of the KKK, but others were just impressed by Buck’s musical ability.

The KKK has gained momentum in the media in recent weeks, culminating in the rally that Buck attended. According to NBC News, the group has struggled to gain traction amidst the rise of modern technology and more moderate white supremacist websites advocating the preservation of “white culture.”

There were two rallies held at the South Carolina capital building last weekend. One by the KKK and another by members of the Black Panthers – a group that advocates “black power.” Coverage by CNN shows members of both parties heckling each other with police following closely behind. The South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported five arrests. 

But other protests by Confederate flag defenders have been more peaceful. As WGHP-TV reported, more than 100 people rallied in Davidson County, N.C. with no incidents reported, and about 1,500 rallied in Graham, N.C. in support of a Confederate monument. That event was also peaceful.

Although the flag on the South Carolina capital grounds has been removed, the issues are far from resolved, as The New York Times reported.

“With the lowering of the battle flag, black South Carolinians are wondering whether this moment might augur a new, more cooperative political tone that could help the state, one of the nation’s poorest, begin to address the longstanding racial disparities in income, education, health care, and quality of life.”

And, as in all political issues, people will have something to say about it. But Buck told the Charleston City Paper that his sousaphone playing didn’t garner too much controversy:

“A few people had a few things to say, but nobody really confronted me or anything, “ he said. “My goal was to embarrass them, and I think I did a little bit.” 

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.