Ku Klux KlanEver wonder what life would be like living in constant fear? In fear of being attacked or lynched at any point of the day due to skin color? This is how life was for many African Americans for a long time in American History.
One of the main reasons for this is the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan had a dominant role in History and was a big threat for many many years to the African American population. In the late 1800’s a white supremacist terrorist group called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) slowly started to break out and become a very big threat to certain groups of people. This white supremacist group, at first, mainly targeted the blacks of the 19th century. In the article by History.com about the “Ku Klux Klan,” “A group including many former Confederate veterans founded the first branch of the Ku Klux Klan as a social club in Pulaski, Tennessee, in 1866.
” (2) It was founded by Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest as a way to keep the white race dominant. The name Ku Klux Klan came from the Greek word Klykos meaning circle. (History.com)After the Civil War ended, black slaves were freed.
The KKK members didn’t like this as they wanted the whites to remain the supreme race. As a result, the KKK strengthened at this time. As Robert C. Smith states in his article about the “KKK,” “These groups used lynching and other forms of violence to intimidate the black community from exercising the economic, civil, and political rights conferred on it after the Civil War.”(1) To lynch the citizens is to kill in mass murders or mobs mostly by hanging and slitting throats. This was definitely a very violent way to assure their success in keeping the white supremacy. As stated in Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia “Attired in robes or sheets and wearing masks topped with pointed hoods, the Klansmen terrorized public officials in efforts to drive them from office and blacks in general to prevent them from voting, holding office, and otherwise exercising their newly acquired political rights.” (2).
The time after the Civil War was a time of growth for the KKK and great hardship for the newly freed slaves. The KKK were still very much a part of history in the 20th Century. In fact, according to Encyclopædia Britannica it re-emerged “in 1915 near Atlanta, Georgia, by Col.
William J. Simmons, a preacher and promoter of fraternal orders” (7) These members wore white robes and participated in organized marches and parades. Burning crosses became their tradition. They also added Jews, Catholics, and foreigners to the list of people they worked against. Bombings and shootings were found to be carried out by this KKK group.
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)According to History.com, “The Great Depression in the 1930s depleted the Klan’s membership ranks, and the organization temporarily disbanded in 1944. The civil rights movement of the 1960s saw a surge of local Klan activity across the South, including the bombings, beatings and shootings of black and white activists.” (9) In 1965, President Lyndon B Johnson spoke out against the KKK helping to further decrease their power and by the early 21st Century the Ku Klux Klan population and acts of violence had greatly decreased. (Encyclopaedia Britannica) In the text from Robert C.
Smith it states “It was only near the end of the Civil Rights movement in the mid-1960s that the FBI and the Justice Department effectively suppressed the Klan’s terrorist activities.” (2).As you can see, the Ku Klux Klan had an important part in American History. They played a large part in the demise of the black population in early America. The Civil Rights Movement and the end of the Ku Klux Klan was a huge beginning of the equality of blacks in America. If the KKK were still in such large existence today, the world would be a whole difference place and the targeted groups would likely hold a different place in our population. Works CitedSmith, Robert C.
“Ku Klux Klan (KKK).” Encyclopedia of African-American Politics, Second Edition, Facts On File, 2014. African-American History, online.infobase.com/HRC/Search/Details/160203?q=kkk.Altman, Susan. “Ku Klux Klan (KKK).” Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage, Second Edition, Facts On File, 2000.
African-American History, online.infobase.com/HRC/Search/Details/158619?q=kkk.History.
com Staff. “Ku Klux Klan.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.
com/topics/ku-klux-klan.”Ku Klux Klan.” Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2017, p.
1p. 1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.
aspx?direct=true&db=funk&AN=KU058800.”Grant, Reconstruction and the KKK.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.
org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/grant-kkk/.The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Ku Klux Klan.
” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 4 Sept. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Ku-Klux-Klan.