What is the Ku Klux Klan?

History Nov 29, 2020

Origins of KKK :-

  • After the civil war, the conditions were changing in south of america which was critical for the Confederate army. Henceforth, to resist federal Reconstruction efforts and maintain white supremacy across the south, On 24th December 1865, six former veteran officers of the Confederate army named Frank McCord, Richard Reed, John Lester, John Kennedy, J. Calvin Jones and James Crowe raised the foundation of the Ku Klux klan.
  • The Ku Klux Klan founded in Pulaski, Tennessee started as a fraternal social club inspired at least in part by the then largely defunct Sons of Malta. The first two words of the organization’s name derived from the Greek word “kyklos,” meaning circle.
  • In 1867, the confederate army general Nathan Bedford Forrest was chosen as the first leader, or “grand wizard,” of the Ku Klux Klan. He has remained a controversial figure in Southern racial history, especially for his main role in the massacre of over 300 black soldiers at Fort Pillow.

3 Eras Of KKK :-

  • There were three eras of the Ku Klux Klan, the first one was in-between 1865 to 1871 as stated above, second one was lasted from 1915 to 1944 and the last one was started from 1946 and still going on.
  • In 1915, the second 'Ku Klux Klan' was founded atop Stone Mountain, Georgia, by William Joseph Simmons. While Simmons relied on documents from the original Klan and memories of some surviving elders, the revived Klan was based significantly on the wildly popular film The Birth of a Nation.
  • The second KKK preached "One Hundred Percent Americanism" and demanded the purification of politics, calling for strict morality and better enforcement of Prohibition. There primary targets were African Americans, as well as Jews, immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Muslims and Roman Catholics.
  • Within the first six months of the Association's national recruitment campaign, Klan membership had increased by 85,000. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men.
  • In third era, the "Ku Klux Klan" name was used by numerous independent local groups opposing the civil rights movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor's offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama.
  • As of 2016, researchers estimate that there are just over 30 active Klan groups existing in the United States, with about 130 chapters. Which Estimates of total collective membership range from about 3,000 to between 5,000–8,000.

Ideologies of KKK :-

  • White supremacy, White nationalism, Nativism, Anti-immigration, Anti-communism, Anti-Catholicism, Prohibition, Right-wing populism, Antisemitism, Antifeminism, Anti-atheism , Anti-abortion, Neo-fascism, Neo-Nazism, Anti-Islam, Anti-LGBT these are some of the ideologies of the ku klux klan.

The Ku Klux Klan Act (1871) :-

  • Though Democratic leaders would later attribute Ku Klux Klan violence to poorer southern white people, the organization’s membership crossed class lines, from small farmers and laborers to planters, lawyers, merchants, physicians and ministers.
  • In the regions where most Klan activity took place, local law enforcement officials either belonged to the Klan or declined to take action against it, and even those who arrested accused Klansmen found it difficult to find witnesses willing to testify against them. Other leading white citizens in the South declined to speak out against the group’s actions, giving them tacit approval. After 1870, Republican state governments in the South turned to Congress for help, resulting in the passage of three Enforcement Acts, the strongest of which was the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
  • For the first time, the Ku Klux Klan Act designated certain crimes committed by individuals as federal offenses, including conspiracies to deprive citizens of the right to hold office, serve on juries and enjoy the equal protection of the law. The act authorized the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and arrest accused individuals without charge, and to send federal forces to suppress Klan violence.

Pop cultural references of KKK :-

  • To know more about the 'Ku Klux Klan' there were many pop cultural references like in films, television episodes and novels.
  • In the academy award winning film "Forrest Gump",the character Forrest Gump was named after the first KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest.
  • Films like The Birth of a Nation, Spike Lee directed 'Blackkklansman', Selma, Undercover with the KKK and near 50 others films have the references.
  • As well as, the television series like Chef Goes Nanners and The Watchman also included The KKK. And adding to that novels like Mr. Vertigo, The Sins of the Father: A Romance of the South, A Time to Kill, The Traitor are based on KKK.

This article has been written by Atharva Budrukkar for The Paradigm

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