The Ku Klux Klan
A look at the history and current activity of the racist organization.
The essay discusses the history of the Ku Klux Klan through the three separate movements established since its inception — the first during the reconstruction era, the second during the 1920’s, and the third during the 1940’s. The essay then goes on to present recent newspaper headlines about the KKK, including the “newspaper night riding” in Texas and California, the rally in Jasper, Texas, and the sentencing of KKK member James Colvin. The essay concludes with the hope that the KKK will continue to be brought down by the law.
“Colonel William Joseph Simmons, the son of one of the officers of the original order, initialized the second movement of the KKK. He pictured his organization as the ultimate fraternal lodge. His task was made easier by the 1915 release of a film by D. W. Griffith called The Birth of a Nation. The film portrayed the original Reconstruction era KKK as valiant protectors of the South’s culture. Simmons placed advertisements for his organization next to those for the movie and solicited new members by proclaiming the Klan a high class order for men of intelligence and character (McVeigh). At the strongest point of this phase of the KKK, during the early 1920’s, membership in the organization reached over three million nationwide (Trelease PG). The main factor keeping the movement strong was fear of the ever-changing social order in America. Large numbers of immigrants were entering the country, communism and other radical movements were stirring, and blacks were moving into northern cities in vast numbers. Jews and Catholics were moving to a higher place in the social and economic order, and labor unions were demanding a bigger share of profits for their members.”