James Hart Stern recently upset the apple cart by becoming the leader of a neo-Nazi group. His appointment is unusual because Stern is also a black civil rights activist.
The National Socialist Movement, or NSM, is a racist organization. Its members idolize Adolf Hitler and preach hatred. How the 54-year-old Afro-American became its president is an unusual tale. But then Stern is an unusual man. Born in South Central, Los Angeles, Stern was a smooth talker. His silver tongue paved the way for him to become a Pastor.
In 2007, things took a turn for the worse when Stern was convicted of five counts of wire fraud. Stern maintained his innocence.
While serving time in a Mississippi prison, Stern befriended his cell mate, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Edgar Ray Killen. Even though Killen would regularly call him a racial slur, Stern rose above it. He said his Christian faith would not allow him to hate the Klansman.
When other black inmates spat and put feces in Killen’s food, Stern would offer him his own food. He would even roll the old racist outside in his wheelchair to get some fresh air.
Over the next four years, Killen began to confide in Stern. And in a remarkable turn of events, Killen granted Stern power-of-attorney over his estate and life story.
Stern was released from prison in 2011. In 2014, the long-time president of the NSM, Jeff Schoep, reached out to Stern to ask about his relationship with Killen. The two met at a race relations summit in California later that year. They were there to hammer out a solution to the racial violence which was plaguing the streets.
Later meetings saw the two men fail to reach a fruitful understanding. Stern struggled to change Schoep’s mind about white-nationalist ideals.
One day in 2019, the white-nationalist approached Stern for legal advice. The NSM was being sued, and Schoep felt the NSM had become an albatross hanging around his neck.
Stern sensed a chink in Schoep’s armor. With his gift of gab, Stern convinced Schoep to make him President of the NSM. Schoep is not happy about this. He claims Stern hoodwinked him into handing over the reins of power.
Now Stern is ready to use his new position to promote peace and understanding. He also plans to transform the group’s website into a place to teach the history of the Holocaust.
But as Stern explains, “I did the hard and dangerous part. As a black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them.”