Ku Klux Klan

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The Ku Klux Klan is a hate group.[1] It was started in the southern United States on 3 March 1865. Most of its hate has been towards African-Americans, but it has also attacked Catholics, Jews and immigrants. It has sought to keep something called "white power", often through very violent acts such as killing people. The first Ku Klux Klan broke up and does not exist anymore. However, other groups with the same name and the same ideas have been created.

Early Years[change | change source]

Ku Klux Klan members march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC in 1928
The Union as It Was

The Ku Klux Klan (acronym KKK) is an organization which was started in the South of the United States in 1865. This was after the American Civil War. It was to resist the Reconstruction of the United States.

During this time, there were troops based in the ex-Confederacy states. The Klan was scared that the population in the South could lose their democratic rights. Also the Klan members believed that African Americans were inferior to (less than) white people. The Klan acted against black people. Republicans were also targets of attacks by the Klan.

The methods of acting against people were often the same: the Klan members tried to frighten the people that the Klan wanted to go out of town. The KKK tried to scare people by burning crosses or by threatening them. If people did not react, the Klan sometimes killed them. The growing violence which was promoted by the KKK led to many lynchings (giving a person an unfair trial and killing them, often by hanging by the neck). The KKK was "prohibited" (made against the law) in 1871. After 1871, many KKK members were imprisoned (put in Prison). However, the Klan had achieved many of its original goals. For example, the occupation troops were moved out of the Southern states, to the West. The KKK affected many African Americans throughout the last century.

The Second Ku Klux Klan[change | change source]

KKK burning a Cross

In 1915, William J. Simmons started the Ku Klux Klan for a second time. Most of the rituals and traditions of the “old” Ku Klux Klan were kept. Any white Protestant man could join the KKK. The KKK still attacked African Americans, but they also attacked Jews and Catholics this time. In 1920, growing economic problems in rural areas caused the Klan to grow again. The KKK strongly argued for “white supremacy”. “White supremacy” says that people who are white (from European origins) are better than other racial groups and must rule them.

The Klan killed many blacks. These were not legal executions because there were no trials. Many people now call these acts a kind of terrorism, because the KKK used fear to control African Americans and take away their political rights. In the middle of the 20’s the Klan got smaller due to bad leaders and too much violence. After the Second World War, the Klan closed again because it owed more money than it could pay.

The Third Ku Klux Klan[change | change source]

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court (the highest court in the US) made an important decision. The case was Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The court ruled (decided) that it was un-Constitutional to have different schools for black and white children. When this ruling passed, many independent groups using the Ku Klux Klan name attacked African Americans.

In the summer of 1964, Edgar Killen killed three African Americans that participated in the civil rights movement. Killen was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There was an early trial in 1967, but in this trial there was an all-white jury and so Killen was set free. In 1988 a movie called Mississippi Burning was made which talked about the events of this case. In 2005 there was another trial. Killen (now 80 years old) was sentenced to prison for 160 years.

In 2011 they were estimated to be perhaps as many as 5,000 members.[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. Etter Sr, Gregg W.; David H. McElreath Ph.D. ; Chester L. Quarles Ph.D. (Spring 2005). "Ku Klux Klan: Evolution Towards Revolution". Journal of Gang Research 12 (3): 1-16.
  2. "About the Ku Klux Klan". Anti-Defamation League. http://www.adl.org/learn/ext_us/kkk/default.asp?LEARN_Cat=Extremism&LEARN_SubCat=Extremism_in_America&xpicked=4&item=kkk. Retrieved October 4, 2011.