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Ku Klux Klan

Josie

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I'm wanting to learn some more about the KKK, its origins and goals. From high school and college I learned the basics: they wore white robes and hoods, burned crosses on black people's lawns, lynched blacks, were the epitome of evil, etc.

What I don't know is how they started, who began the group, why it's called Ku Klux Klan, how many of them still exist today....

Can someone point out some reliable sources for me?
 

CaptainCourtesy

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Hang on. I have a good link on this somewhere. Their origins are not necessarily what one would think.
 

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Don't know much, but here's the basics. They were formed in 1865 by six Confederate veterans in TN. They were a terrorist organization whose aim was to retain White dominance over Blacks by any means necessary. They intimidated, raped, and murdered Blacks and Whites alike to keep Blacks away from the polls. They were largely successful at this. The number of Black voters in the 1870s, the numbers plummeted. The first Klan was largely wiped out in 1871 as militias and the army fought them. In that year, the Ku Klux Klan Act was signed by Grant that allowed Federal troops to crack down on the Klan. Dozens of leaders were brought to trial, and many were convicted as Blacks were allowed to serve in the juries for the first time. The Klan at least ofr now was mostly gone.

In 1915, the Klan saw a rebirth. It cast itself as not just a Southern, Anti-Black movement, but as an "All American Upholders of Law and Order" group of Protestants who also hated Jews, Catholics, Socialists, and Labor Unions. The influence of the Klan grew as membership ballooned to 6,000,000 in 1924. Elected officials in many areas had to be Klansmen to be elected. Even in the Northern state of Indiana the Klan dominated state and local politics. That all changed when the Grand Dragon (head honcho) DC Stephenson raped, beat, and murdered a White schoolteacher. The Klan's role as protectors of Americana and women was tarnished, and many left the Klan. In the 1940s, the guy who wrote Superman revealed many of their secret rituals in a Superman issue and book, which trivialized the former mystique of the Klan which had drawn so many converts. By the 1950s, the Klan was trivial. It has engaged in violence since then, but it has never been the power it once was. Today's membership is only a few thousand.

For further information, the history channel made an excellent documentary on the Klan a while ago. You might be able to find it.

Oh and the name? Ku Klux come from the Greek word "Kuklos" which means circle.
 

CaptainCourtesy

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The Klan, originally, was created by a small group of men in Tennessee, as a social club. The wore the capes and hoods, which at first were multi-colored, as a nod to fraternities, and because they realized that these "costumes frightened negroes. From here, what with the animosity towards negroes, and the problems many disenfranchised whites had after the Civil War, simple "scaring" by a social club, became terrorizing and harming blacks by a terrorist group. Initially, the KKK's power was very short-lived, pretty much dying out by the mid-1870's, only to be revitalized into a much stronger terrorist organization in 1915.

Here are a few links:
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/kkk.htm/
Ku Klux Klan -- Extremism in America
Klu Klux Klan: A Hundred Years of Terror: Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center

These are good starting points.
 

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Thanks guys.

Why "circle"?
 

CaptainCourtesy

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Thanks guys.

Why "circle"?
From my third link. I highlighted the reason for "circle":

In fact the beginning of the Klan involved nothing so sinister, subversive or ancient as the theories supposed. It was the boredom of small-town life that led six young Confederate veterans to gather around a fireplace one December evening in 1865 and form a social club. The place was Pulaski, Tennessee, near the Alabama border. When they reassembled a week later, the six young men were full of ideas for their new society. It would be secret, to heighten the amusement of the thing, and the titles for the various officers were to have names as preposterous-sounding as possible, partly for the fun of it and partly to avoid any military or political implications.

Thus, the head of the group was called the Grand Cyclops. His assistant was the Grand Magi; there was to be a Grand Turk to greet all candidates for admission, a Grand Scribe to act as secretary, Night Hawks for messengers and a Lictor to be the guard. The members, when the six young men found some to join, would be called Ghouls. But what name to call the society itself? The founders were determined to come up with something unusual and mysterious. Being well-educated, they turned to Greek. After tossing around a number of ideas, Richard R. Reed suggested the word "kuklos," from which the English words "circle and "cycle" are derived. Another member, Captain John B. Kennedy, had an ear for alliteration and added the word "clam." After tinkering with the sound for a while, group settled on the "Ku Klux Klan." The selection of the name, chance though it was, had a great deal to do with the Klan's early success. Something about the sound aroused curiosity and gave the fledgling club an immediate air of mystery, as did the initials K.K.K., which were soon to take on such terrifying significance.
 

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The Klan, originally, was created by a small group of men in Tennessee, as a social club. The wore the capes and hoods, which at first were multi-colored, as a nod to fraternities, and because they realized that these "costumes frightened negroes. From here, what with the animosity towards negroes, and the problems many disenfranchised whites had after the Civil War, simple "scaring" by a social club, became terrorizing and harming blacks by a terrorist group. Initially, the KKK's power was very short-lived, pretty much dying out by the mid-1870's, only to be revitalized into a much stronger terrorist organization in 1915.

Here are a few links:
http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/kkk.htm/
Ku Klux Klan -- Extremism in America
Klu Klux Klan: A Hundred Years of Terror: Report from the Southern Poverty Law Center

These are good starting points.
Let me add that those who believe that the Klan was strictly a southern thing are wrong. The largest KKK chapter in existence was in Indiana. The KKK was once quite powerful, and even marched in Washington.
 

CaptainCourtesy

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Let me add that those who believe that the Klan was strictly a southern thing are wrong. The largest KKK chapter in existence was in Indiana. The KKK was once quite powerful, and even marched in Washington.
It started off as a strictly southern thing, and it's first incarnation was pretty exclusively southern. It's second incarnation, also, started out as southern, but this time, it expanded to all parts of the US.
 

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I'd just like to add that in modern times, the vast majority of Southerners consider the Klan to be a despised relic of the past, or a sad joke worthy only of laughter and derision, or both.
 

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I'd just like to add that in modern times, the vast majority of Southerners consider the Klan to be a despised relic of the past, or a sad joke worthy only of laughter and derision, or both.
I agree with this post, but believe that some of the minority of Southerners laughter isn't because they find the KKK's ideals or tactics ridiculous, but because they no longer consider the KKK an effective organization. Extreme prejudice can still be found clogging the bowels of the South's backwaters.
 

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So it was started after the Civil war by Democrats against blacks AND whites who were Republican. It sounds like it's initial goal was political and not really just hating black people. Did it evolve into just hating black people? Were they always against Republicans?
 

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I agree with this post, but believe that some of the minority of Southerners laughter isn't because they find the KKK's ideals or tactics ridiculous, but because they no longer consider the KKK an effective organization. Extreme prejudice can still be found clogging the bowels of the South's backwaters.

I disagree. I think that extreme prejudice is no more common in the modern South than it is anywhere else in the USA, aside perhaps from a few isolated pockets here and there: you know, the ones that the news likes to make such a big deal over.

I base this on the fact that I've run into roughly as many racists who are from other parts of the country, as I find among native-born Southerners.
 

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I disagree. I think that extreme prejudice is no more common in the modern South than it is anywhere else in the USA, aside perhaps from a few isolated pockets here and there: you know, the ones that the news likes to make such a big deal over.

I base this on the fact that I've run into roughly as many racists who are from other parts of the country, as I find among native-born Southerners.
I cant say about the mid west or North East but the North West US (Idaho, eastern Washington and Montana) has a significant level of extreme racists. Along with parts of southern Alberta the region formed the basis of support for the Aryan Nations, with plenty of camps for them being formed in the 1980's and early 1990's. They are no longer as visiable as they were, but as most would be in their 30-50's I doubt they have died or changed their views much in the last 20 years
 

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How the KKK was revived in 1915 was due to a movie called "Birth of a Nation" which portrayed blacks as savages and KKK as heroes.It is based on a book and play The Clansman and the book The Leopard's Spots.

Ku Klux Klan - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Birth of a Nation

Director D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation glorified the original Klan. His film was based on the book and play The Clansman and the book The Leopard's Spots, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr.. Dixon said his purpose was "to revolutionize northern sentiment by a presentation of history that would transform every man in my audience into a good Democrat!"




Another interesting detail is the fact that the 1924 democratic national convention

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1924_Democratic_National_Convention
 
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Josie

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I just learned the first movie played in the White House was Birth of a Nation.
 

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So it was started after the Civil war by Democrats against blacks AND whites who were Republican. It sounds like it's initial goal was political and not really just hating black people. Did it evolve into just hating black people? Were they always against Republicans?
Well, here's the thing.

What you're talking about took place during the Reconstruction Era. Reconstruction tried to bring the Southern states back into the Union and reform the area from slavery and discrimination of blacks. During that time, ex-Confederates were not allowed to vote and the Southern states did not have formal membership in the Senate. This meant that the whites in power in the South had no formal method of maintaining segregation.

Also, the Southern states were occupied by Federal troops to ensure laws against slavery and discrimination were being enforced. Federal troops protected blacks from the Southerners who tried to continue the racism of the area.

The third part to Southern anger in the Reconstruction period was at the "carpetbaggers," who were wealthy Northerners who bought up land and property of Southerners who went bankrupt during or because of the war. They preyed on the financial destitute of Southerners for their own profit and gain.

So because white Southerners 1) didn't have any representation in government, 2) were preyed upon by financial predators, 3) were threatened by Federal troops, 4) saw their place in the Southern class system being overturned by blacks who had gained their freedom, they decided to form a group that would look out for their interests: the KKK.

So, originally, the KKK wasn't even a terrorist organization - they were more like a white Southern "street gang" in that they formed together in order to look out for their mutual interests against threats. This is similar to, say, all the Italians of New York City forming a mafia for mutual protection, and all the Irish forming a gang to protect their own people.

This continued until the Compromise of 1877, in which Republican Presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction, end Republican control of Southern states, and pull Federal troops out of the South in order to gain the Presidency. After this, ex-Confederates regained the right to vote and most Southern voters registered as Democrats so they could vote against the Republicans who fought them and reigned over them during Reconstruction. This became the "Solid South" and allowed them to create Jim Crow laws and was the era of Redemption in which Southern racists used laws to discriminate and segregate blacks.

Because racists whites in the South were able to vote laws to oppress blacks "legally," the KKK moved from being a "gang" committing violence and more as a social club. Basically, government-supported racism was the culture of the time, and the KKK was so powerful with voters that many politicians of the time had to join up just to get the KKK's endorsement for voter support, much like how politicians seek the endorsements of the NAACP, AARP, ACLU and the endorsements of other organizations for voter support.

The KKK lost support during the Civil Rights Era of the '50's, 60's, and '70's, as more people lobbied to end Jim Crow laws and write laws that better guaranteed rights of blacks and other minorities.

It was during this period that the Democratic Party started to split. There were northern Democrats who supported Civil Rights, such as the Kennedys, and the "Solid South," also known as "Dixiecrats," who opposed it, one of which was Strom Thurmond. Although they belonged to the same party, the regional differences grew and grew as time went on.

During the '70's, Richard Nixon (called "Tricky Dick" for a reason) took advantage of this and used "the Southern Strategy" to come up with policies that favored "states' rights" in order to get the vote of Southerners despite being a Republican. Since then, the "Solid South" has moved over to the Republican Party as a party for Southern conservatives to belong to. There is no better example of this as Strom Thurmond joining the Republican Party during that time.

I know you asked about the KKK and I included a few more things, but I think that's a pretty good summary of not just the KKK but also the regional politics and party involvement. This also shows why Democrats in the South are much more socially conservative than Democrats elsewhere while supporting more government involvement, and why the Republican Party moved from being mostly a party of pro-business interests to also being extremely socially conservative.
 

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Strom Thumond was a segregationist but Byrd was a full blown KKK recruiter. Much loved and respected by the Democratic Party.
This on the late Robert Byrd and affiliation with the KKK...

Robert Byrd


Senator Robert Byrd was a Kleagle, a Klan recruiter, in his 20s and 30s.West Virginia's Democratic United States Senator Robert C. Byrd was a recruiter for the Klan while in his 20s and 30s, rising to the title of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops of his local chapter. After leaving the group, Byrd spoke in favor of the Klan during his early political career. Though he claimed to have left the organization in 1943, Byrd wrote a letter in 1946 to the group's Imperial Wizard stating "The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia." Byrd defended the Klan in his 1958 U.S. Senate campaign when he was 41 years old.[10]

Despite being the only Senator to vote against both African American U.S. Supreme Court nominees (liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas) and filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Byrd has since said joining the Klan was his "greatest mistake." The NAACP gave him a 100% rating on their issues during the 108th Congress.[11] However, in a 2001 incident Byrd repeatedly used the phrase "white niggers" on a national television broadcast.[12]
 

CaptainCourtesy

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So it was started after the Civil war by Democrats against blacks AND whites who were Republican. It sounds like it's initial goal was political and not really just hating black people. Did it evolve into just hating black people? Were they always against Republicans?
No, the lables "Democrats" and "Republicans" were actually pretty irrelevant. It was about southerners being against northerners and blacks. The political thing that you are attempting to add to this is pretty meaningless. It is about south vs. north.
 

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Don't know much, but here's the basics. They were formed in 1865 by six Confederate veterans in TN. They were a terrorist organization whose aim was to retain White dominance over Blacks by any means necessary. They intimidated, raped, and murdered Blacks and Whites alike to keep Blacks away from the polls. They were largely successful at this. The number of Black voters in the 1870s, the numbers plummeted. The first Klan was largely wiped out in 1871 as militias and the army fought them. In that year, the Ku Klux Klan Act was signed by Grant that allowed Federal troops to crack down on the Klan. Dozens of leaders were brought to trial, and many were convicted as Blacks were allowed to serve in the juries for the first time. The Klan at least ofr now was mostly gone.

In 1915, the Klan saw a rebirth. It cast itself as not just a Southern, Anti-Black movement, but as an "All American Upholders of Law and Order" group of Protestants who also hated Jews, Catholics, Socialists, and Labor Unions. The influence of the Klan grew as membership ballooned to 6,000,000 in 1924. Elected officials in many areas had to be Klansmen to be elected. Even in the Northern state of Indiana the Klan dominated state and local politics. That all changed when the Grand Dragon (head honcho) DC Stephenson raped, beat, and murdered a White schoolteacher. The Klan's role as protectors of Americana and women was tarnished, and many left the Klan. In the 1940s, the guy who wrote Superman revealed many of their secret rituals in a Superman issue and book, which trivialized the former mystique of the Klan which had drawn so many converts. By the 1950s, the Klan was trivial. It has engaged in violence since then, but it has never been the power it once was. Today's membership is only a few thousand.

For further information, the history channel made an excellent documentary on the Klan a while ago. You might be able to find it.

Oh and the name? Ku Klux come from the Greek word "Kuklos" which means circle.
in indiana, martinsville and south are still klan country.
 

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I disagree. I think that extreme prejudice is no more common in the modern South than it is anywhere else in the USA, aside perhaps from a few isolated pockets here and there: you know, the ones that the news likes to make such a big deal over.

I base this on the fact that I've run into roughly as many racists who are from other parts of the country, as I find among native-born Southerners.
I didn't deny that extreme prejudice existed elsewhere in the country, but your post was specifically dealing with the South.
 

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No, the lables "Democrats" and "Republicans" were actually pretty irrelevant. It was about southerners being against northerners and blacks. The political thing that you are attempting to add to this is pretty meaningless. It is about south vs. north.
It's not irrelevant since the KKK targeted white Republicans as well as blacks. It was politically motivated.
 

CaptainCourtesy

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It's not irrelevant since the KKK targeted white Republicans as well as blacks. It was politically motivated.
Yes it is irrelevant because they targetted northerners as well as blacks.
 

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Republicans happened to be the Northern party at the time.

I really hate these discussions on which party did more to recognize or violate minority rights.

"Lincoln was a Republican"

"But he'd be a Democrat today"

"But the Democrats supported Jim Crow"

"But..."

Shut up!! Both parties did things that helped and hurt minorities, and the GOP and Democratic Party of today are far different and made up of different people than before the Civil Rights Legislation before the 1960s. Base your debate on which party is better on what is going on now, not the actions of dead men.
 

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Yes it is irrelevant because they targetted northerners as well as blacks.
They targeted northern REPUBLICANS. It was politically motivated. Why do you not wish to admit that it was a Democratic group who were targeting the opposing group?
 

CaptainCourtesy

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They targeted northern REPUBLICANS. It was politically motivated. Why do you not wish to admit that it was a Democratic group who were targeting the opposing group?
Because the political party was irrelevant. They targetted NORTHERNERS. It was not poltiically motivated. It was SECTIONALLY motivated, Why do YOU refuse to admit this?
 
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