First Draft

Shatondra Caldwell

CHIS 202 (WISE) 

Professor Underwood

Rough Draft



The Origins and Violence of the Ku Klux Klan

When you think of racism what comes to mind? Do Martin Luther King Jr. and his walks against segregation in Selma, Alabama come to mind or Rosa Parks standing up for her rights and not giving up her sit for a white man? What about the kidnappings, murders and lynching of African Americans by the Ku Klux Klan? The Ku Klux Klan may be a subject that cross your mind but what is the real truth behind the KKK? The Klan was one of the most dangerous and brutal groups in America and change the view of violence, hatred and plain racism.

Beginning post civil war in 1866, 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. [1]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. The reformation period was after the civil war and one reason for the \transformation was for the south. These meant effects to the government were shifting. Freedom for slaves was in question and will they have rights just like whites.[2] The Klan opposed this period and despised all whites who supported this reformation. They did not have a very organized structure but targeted specific groups including blacks, Jews and whites who encouraged the reformation period. The Klan did not get very far with their fight against this period. President Ulysses S. Grant shut down the Klan in 1871 because of their violence. The Ku Klux Klan was now a name known throughout the U.S. but when did the violence really start?

The second major 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. [3]The costumes included white robe type 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. This KKK taught of Americanism and purification of politics. With this also came racist teaching against blacks mainly. The violence increased with the more members who learned to hate. More and more violent activities happened in the south. Some local groups took part in attacks at private houses. This violence was not very brutal but 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 third and last Ku Klux Klan was made in the early 1950s. This Klan is 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.

[1] Chalmers,David M. Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan. 3 ed. North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1981.   

[2] Martinez,James M. Carpetbaggers, Cavalry, and the Ku Klux Klan: exposing the invisible empire during Reconstruction. illstrated ed. Rowman and Littlefield Publisher, 2007. 

[3] McVeigh, Rory. “Structural Incentives for Conservative Mobilization: Power Devaluation and the Rise of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1925.” 77, no. (1999):


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