Racism and the Rise of the KKK in the 1920's


The KKK first originated after the Civil War as a way for white supremacists to rebel against the new rights given to slaves. The first KKK movement flourished from the 1860's to the 1870's, but then died down. During the 1920's, however, the organization experienced a resurgence. This time, their hatred was not only limited to African Americans, but expanded to Catholics, Jews, and Immigrants as well. This was due to the changes in "traditional" American society, the changing economy, and changing morals and values within America. Many people, including the KKK, blamed these changes on the massive amount of immigrants coming into the US at that time, and worked to resist these changes by supporting "traditional" American values. The third wave of the KKK movement appeared during the 1950's and 1960's and worked to resist the Civil Rights Movement and the changing status of African Americans in society. Today, the KKK has an estimated 5,000 members across the United States, and is considered to be a "Terrorist Organization" by many sources.



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KKK and Racism Before the 1920's


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The first Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee. It was a secret society of that consisted of mainly veterans of the confederate army and members of the old planter class. Their goal was to restore white rule and keep African Americans powerless because they were angry about black people gaining rights. They did this through threats and violence against black and white republicans. The KKK believed that African Americans should not be citizens and that white people were a 'superior race'

First KKK
- Reaction against Reconstruction in the South after Civil War
-Secret group created to seek revenge on African Americans who won their freedom in the Civil War
-Klan members felt threatened because they thought blacks would seek more power
-Klan was dangerous-mobbing, hanging, shooting
-Sought to torture former slaves
-Hurt people who spoke out against them
-Terrorized African Americans

Jim Crow Laws
-'Separate but equal' status of African Americans
-Segregation in public facilities
-Whites superior to blacks
-Blacks who violated laws risked their homes, jobs, even lives
-Violence was used as a method of social control




The Revival of the KKK




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William J. Simmons was the leader of the resurgence movement of the KKK in the 1920's.

Simmons started the movement with a small group of men who disliked other social groups. Soon after, Simmons decided to promote and expand the group. The group quickly attracted Americans from across the US.







Simmons designed the famous white hooded uniform and also started the tradition of the burning of the cross.

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He was the main conductor of spreading the hatred against Catholics, Jews and immigrants.







Hatred Spreads to Catholics, Jews and Immigrants

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s a result of the changing United States culture, many Americans feared the "traditional" American culture would be lost. They became angry with the massive amount of immigration in the US, claiming the immigrants were ruining American culture and society. The KKK used these fears to gain new members. Their hatred spread to:
- Cathloics
- Jews
- Immigrants



In the West and South, members believed that evil came from the cities and the immigrants there who were not from Northern Europe.
Many people joined the clan out of the fear that Catholics, Jews and Immigrants were taking over the country.

The KKK also opposed many things they believed were harmful to the "traditional" American way of life, including:

- The teaching of evolution in schools, because it was against what was taught in the bible.
- Birth control devices and information
- Prohibition

Although the Second KKK was less violent than it had been during the Reconstruction Era, public tarrings, whippings, and lynching still occurred in many parts of the country.





KKK and Politics in the US

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As the resurgence movement grew, the KKK gained control through governments within the US. Many KKK members became members of the US politics, such as congressmen and State Officials. The KKK had strong political power in many states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Oregon and Maine. These governments were strongly influenced by the KKK during the 1920's, leading to corrupt governments in many states. However, after many members were being convicted of numerous crimes, the group began to fall apart in the late 1920's.





The KKK Today

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Today the KKK has an estimated 5,000 members. Their main ways of influence today is through the power of the U.S courts. They have tried to persuade juries on the issues of same sex marriage, and immigration.

ADL has identified the following states as being notable for active or growing Klan chapters:
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Many parents now are teaching their kids about the KKK.
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The Klan, of course, has had a hand in some of the nation's most infamous acts of racial terror and murder.