United States

History of the KKK

KKK grand wizard and other members of KKK seen with the american flag, one of the symbols used by the organization to represent themselves as for the Americans.

Imagine what our country would be today if the existence of one of the most powerful hate groups in history had never occurred.  Perhaps the events at charlottesville would never had taken place.  A bitter confederate leader named Nathan Bedford Forrest founded the clan after the south had lost the civil war.  The KKK became an extremely powerful hate group who suppressed African American people, starting a repeating pattern of post-slavery segregation towards African Americans. We even see the affects of the KKK today with the attack of Charlottesville.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in 1866. The group extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history. The first was in the late 19th century, then in the 1920s, and also during the 1950s  and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. The Klan had resurgence again in the 1970s, but did not reach its past level of influence. Since then, the Klan has become just one element in a much broader spectrum of white supremacist activity. In the beginning, the group was originally supposed to be for former confederate soldiers.

KKK members parade in Virginia, 1922

They later evolved into a terrorist group that is responsible for thousands of deaths. According to an article called, Grant, Reconstruction, and KKK, “In this violent atmosphere, the Ku Klux Klan grew in size and strength. By 1868, the Klan had evolved into a hooded terrorist organization that its members called “The Invisible Empire of the South.” The reorganized Klan’s first leader, or “Grand Wizard,” was Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had been a Confederate general during the Civil War.” This quote shows who was in charge of the clan at the time and what they call themselves. White Southerners from all classes of society joined the Klan’s ranks. In the name of preserving law and order in a white-dominated society, Klansmen punished newly freed blacks for a variety of reasons, including behaving in an “impudent” manner toward whites. They whipped the teachers of freedmen’s schools and burnt their schoolhouses. But first and foremost, the Klan sought to do away with Republican influence in the South by terrorizing and murdering its party leaders and all those who voted for it.

Members of KKK seen posing with the symbol of their organization, the burning cross.

The KKK had three major movements of power throughout the history of the U.S. It’s most powerful movement was in the 1920s when the organization boasted over 4 million members.  With The increasing size of the group came an increased occurrence of violence.  “In this violent atmosphere, the Ku Klux Klan grew in size and strength. By 1868, the Klan had evolved into a hooded terrorist organization that its members called “The Invisible Empire of the South.” The reorganized Klan’s first leader, or “Grand Wizard,” was Nathan Bedford Forrest, who had been a Confederate general during the Civil War.”  The Klan became a terrorist organization that used excessive violence to carry out its rules and beliefs.  African Americans, Catholics, and Immigrants were all under attack by the group and were the main targets of the Klan.  “The Klan’s goals included the political defeat of the Republican Party and the maintenance of absolute white supremacy in response to newly gained civil and political rights by southern blacks after the Civil War (1861-65). They were more successful in achieving their political goals than they were with their social goals during the Reconstruction era.”  The KKK also targeted Republican members that disagreed with their ideals.  Many members joined the Klan because it appealed to church-goers or separately Americans who had a grudge against African Americans, Immigrants, and Catholics.

The KKK became an extremely powerful hate group who suppressed African American people, starting a repeating pattern of post-slavery segregation towards African Americans. They spreaded across the nation in rapid succession. The KKK group shaped how post civil war racism stayed relevant throughout the years, and allowed racism to thrive even after government laws and regulations were put in place to completely end racial prejudice.  

Article by Drew Delbrouck and Calista Hudson

Works Cited:

“HISTORY | Watch Full Episodes of Your Favorite Shows.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/.

 

History.com Staff. “Ku Klux Klan.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/ku-klux-klan.

“Grant, Reconstruction and the KKK.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/grant-kkk/.

One Comment

  1. I agree with the story above. A piece of outside evidence that would support this article is the Jim Crow Laws. These laws made it legal for racial discrimination against African Americans. These laws were put into effect after the Plessy v. Fergussen case. This connects to this article because it shows how widespread racial discrimination was.