Cultural A Paper

Shatondra Caldwell

English 106 (WISE) 

Dr. K

Cultural Analysis


The Origins and Violence of the Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan is a secret organization of white supremacist, mainly in the South, who used violence against minority groups including Black and Jews. But when did this supremacist group start? What caused the Klan to come together and form a group that supported violence and hatred against other races? What role does the Klan play in the United States and its history? The Klan was one of the most dangerous and brutal groups in America and change the view of violence, hatred and plain racism.                                           

Beginning in the post- civil war South in1866, (Wald)the Ku Klux Klan was founded by Confederate civil war veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee. Some of the veterans included Captain John C. Lester, Major James R. Crowe and John D. Kennedy. (Bondria)The Klan was named after the Greek word “kuklos”, which means circle. The Ku Klux Klan means a circle of brothers. This new group was the very first KKK group and influenced many more groups to become a Klan during the reconstruction period in the United States. (Martinez)The reconstruction period was the readjustment of the United States in 1865 -1877 after the civil war. After the war the south was a ruined land. The Klan was mainly located in the south so to stick together they started more groups. The Klan was considered a militia fighting for the “rights” of the South.  The KKK did not have a very organized structure but targeted specific groups including blacks, Jews and whites who encouraged the reconstruction period. The violent behavior towards the different races caused an uproar in the U.S… (Baudouin)President Ulysses S. Grant shut down the Klan in 1871 because of their violence during this period. The Ku Klux Klan was now a name known throughout the U.S. and started a movement that will be a part of history.

       (Chalmers)The second resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan group started in Stone Mountain, Georgia in 1915, but took off in 1921 with recruitment. The Klan now had fees for initiation and costumes. (McVeigh)The costumes included white type robes with hoods and the eyes cut out.  This group spread rapidly nationwide. It grew more in cities in the Midwest and the West out of the South. The KKK taught of Americanism and purification of politics. With this also came racist teaching against blacks mainly. (Bondria)The violence increased with the more members who learned to hate. The early 20th century had the most violence including the year 1919. 1919 had the most lynching in the history of the United States. The Klan had a huge part in this violence increase with lynches, kidnappings and killings. (Chalmers)The “Red Summer” of 1919 was during May through September and defined as lynching season. During this time 76 Blacks were reported lynched. (Bondria)There were also race riots including the Omaha riot of 1919. More and more violent activities happened in the south. Some local groups took part in attacks at private houses. This violence was very brutal and did include burning houses and threats of killing. This second Klan was classified as a fraternal organization with a state and national structure. By the mid 1920’s the Klan had 4-5 million members. But the internal divisions against the members, and criminal behavior by leaders brought down the Klan. The membership dropped rapidly throughout the 1930s and later faded away in 1940s. The Klan in the 20th century was a very strong and violent group that took off like a rocket. This Klan was a part of history and so was the next Klan starting in the 1950s.      

(McVeigh)The third and last Ku Klux Klan reemerged in the early 1950s. These Klan groups are the most well known throughout the U.S. The 1950s was the start of African Americans standing up for their rights and taking the law into their own hands. The Klan resisted the social change of African Americans and came with brutality. The crimes of the KKK were now being exposed by the public but that did not stop the Klan. (Bondria)Klans in cities like Birmingham started a new movement of bombing homes and other violent crimes including the 16th street Baptist church. (Baudouin)Four girls were killed in this bombing in a church by white Klan members. The Ku Klux Klan was not only involved in city crimes but national crimes that caught the U.S’s attention. (Chalmers)Brown vs. Board of Education of 1954 was one of the most publicized cases including the Klan in the 50s. (Martinez)Brown vs. Board was a class action suit filed against the Board of Education of Topeka Kansas by thirteen parents on behalf of their twenty children. (Martinez)One of the appointed senate members was Hugo Black. Black was once a life time and known member of the Ku Klux Klan, but when the suit decision was handed down on (Bondria)May 17, 1954 it was unanimous 9-0 stating “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal”. Black was criticized as being a former KKK but says he did join but got out of group the after three years. After the Brown vs. Education suit the KKK answered with violence. Threats came left and right from Klan members who were hostile to the situation. Years after the suit many more events happen that involved the Klan. (Chalmers)The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a landmark piece of legislation in the U.S that outlawed major form of discrimination against Black and women, including racial segregation. The Klan are known for the deaths of civil rights protesters including (Baudouin)assassination of the NAACP organizer Medgar Evans. The Klan throughout the civil rights movement had lots of members but then later in the 1970s died down. Now till this day this Klan is still an organization but not as active as it was in the 1950s.    

In conclusion the Ku Klux Klan started in a small town in Tennessee and evolved into a violent group around the United States. Starting after the post civil war the Klan started a movement of hate and violence towards minority races and took the reconstruction period by storm with the secrets and brutally. The second Klan was a part of the most violent part of the 20th century. Members of Klan increased by the millions and killings also increased. The Ku Klux Klan is a part U.S. history during this century. The last Klan was also a part of historical moments. The civil rights movement and the Brown vs. Board Education are all examples of why the Klan did the things they did. The Ku Klux Klan is a dangerous group and did change the view of violence and hate in America’s history.


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