A HOPEFULLY HISTORICALLY AND EDUCATIONAL INSIGHT INTO FASCISM HERE IN THE UK, ON DISPLAY HERE AT THE JAIL .
British Fascist and Leader of the BUF Movement ( British Union of Fascist Movement ) , Oswald Mosley in his prime during the 1930’s
Above & Below: Original oil paintings of British Union of Fascists founder & leader Oswald Mosley, by Gloucestershire artist Paul Bridgman on display at The Crime Through Time Collection, Littledean jail , UK .
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAS NO AFFILIATION , CONNECTION OR INVOLVEMENT WITH ANY EXTREMIST , POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR OTHERWISE MOVEMENTS WHATSOEVER …… WE SIMPLY EXHIBIT AND TOUCH UPON A GREAT MANY POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTIONS DARE COVER IN THE WAY WE CHOOSE TO DO HERE. …. “IT’S ALL HISTORY FOR GOODNESS SAKE”
POLITICALLY INCORRECT IT MAY BE… SO WHAT…… IT HAPPENED HERE IN BRITAIN
BELOW: A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO A FEW OF OUR RARE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF BRITISH FASCIST MOVEMENT MEMORABILIA, HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL
BELOW IS A VERY BRIEF PICTORIAL SLIDESHOW INSIGHT INTO JUST A FEW OF THE EXHIBIT ITEMS HERE ON DISPLAY IN OUR FASCISM IN BRITAIN EXHIBITION.TOUCHING UPON A TABOO SUBJECT MATTER THAT OUR UK GOVERNMENTS HAVE LONG SINCE WISHED TO BRUSH UNDER THE CARPETS AS NOT BEING WORTH REFLECTING UPON IN OUR BRITISH HISTORY SCHOOL AND COLLEGE CURRICULUM’S
Above and below: Rare images of Oswald Mosley’s BUF Movement parading with the original BUF Standards/Banners…. one of which is here on display at Littledean Jail in and amongst the Fascism in Britain Exhibition .
Below: A rare original Oswald Mosley British Union Standard/Rally Banner being one of the so say 60 number of them that were carried and used by the movement during the 1930’s, along with other BUF related memorabilia
Above and below: Oswald Mosley seen at various British Union rallies during the 1930’s …
SURELY IT IS A PART OF HISTORY THAT WE SHOULD ALL REFLECT UPON IN EDUCATIONAL TERMS AS TO OUR PAST CONFLICTS ?
PLEASE DO TAKE THE TIME IF INTERESTED IN OUR FASCISM IN BRITAIN HISTORY DURING THE 1930’S-1940’S TO LOOK AT THE INTERACTIVE DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE BELOW
Above : An exceptionally rare Arnold Leese (1878-1956) “Imperial Fascist League” banner which controversially depicted the Nazi Swastika emblem within the centre of the Untider Kingdom’s Union Jack Flag.
Mosley was the eldest of three sons of Sir Oswald Mosley, 5th Baronet, of Ancoats (29 December 1873 – 21 September 1928), and wife Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote (1874–1950), the second child of Captain Justinian Edwards-Heathcote of Market Drayton, Shropshire. Mosley’s family were Anglo-Irish. His branch were prosperous landowners in Staffordshire. Through the intermarriage common among the British upper classes, the 5th Baronet was the third cousin of the Earl of Strathmore, which would eventually make Oswald Mosley, the 6th baronet, fourth cousin to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was the Earl of Strathmore’s daughter, and fourth cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth II.
Lord Curzon had to be persuaded that Mosley was a suitable husband, as he suspected Mosley was largely motivated by social advancement in Conservative Party politics and her inheritance. The 1920 wedding took place in the Chapel Royal in St James’s Palace in London. It was the social event of the year. The hundreds of guests included European royalty, including King George V and Queen Mary; and Leopold III and Astrid of Sweden, King and Queen of Belgium.
By Diana Mitford, he had two sons: Oswald Alexander Mosley (born 26 November 1938), married on 10 May 1975 to Charlotte Diana Marten (born 1952) and father of Louis Mosley (born 1983); and Max Rufus Mosley (born 13 April 1940), who was president of theFédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) for 16 years.
Mosley spent large amounts of his private fortune on the British Union of Fascists (BUF) and tried to establish it on a firm financial footing by negotiating, through Diana, with Adolf Hitler for permission to broadcast commercial radio to Britain from Germany.
By the end of World War I Mosley decided to go into politics as a ConservativeMember of Parliament (MP), although he was only 21 years old and had not fully developed his politics. He was driven by a passionate conviction to avoid any future war and this motivated his career. Largely because of his family background, he was considered by several constituencies; a vacancy near the family estates seemed to be the best prospect.
Mosley was at this time falling out with the Conservatives over Irish policy, objecting to the use of the Black and Tans to suppress the Irish population. Eventually he ‘crossed the floor‘ and sat as an Independent MP on the opposition side of the House of Commons. Having built up a following in his constituency, he retained it against a Conservative challenge in the 1922 and 1923 general elections.
The liberal Westminster Gazette wrote that he was “the most polished literary speaker in the Commons, words flow from him in graceful epigrammatic phrases that have a sting in them for the government and the conservatives. To listen to him is an education in the English language, also in the art of delicate but deadly repartee. He has human sympathies, courage and brains.” By 1924 he was growing increasingly attracted to the Labour Party, which had just formed a government, and in March he joined. He immediately joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP) as well and allied himself with the left.
When the government fell in October, Mosley had to choose a new seat as he believed that Harrow would not re-elect him as a Labour candidate. He therefore decided to oppose Neville Chamberlain in Birmingham Ladywood. An energetic campaign led to a knife-edge result but Mosley was defeated by 77 votes. His period outside Parliament was used to develop a new economic policy for the ILP, which eventually became known as the Birmingham Proposals; they continued to form the basis of Mosley’s economics until the end of his political career.
In 1926, the Labour-held seat of Smethwick fell vacant and Mosley returned to Parliament after winning the resulting by-election on 21 December. Mosley felt the campaign was dominated by Conservative attacks on him for being too rich and claims he was covering up his wealth.
Mosley and his wife Cynthia were ardent Fabians in the 1920s and 1930s. Mosley appears in a list of names of Fabians from Fabian News and Fabian Society Annual Report 1929–31. He wasKingsway Hall lecturer in 1924 and Livingstone Hall lecturer in 1931.
Mosley was always impatient and eventually put forward a whole scheme in the ‘Mosley Memorandum’ to find it rejected by the Cabinet; he then resigned in May 1930. At the time, the weekly liberal paper The Nation described his move: “The resignation of Sir Oswald Mosley is an event of capital importance in domestic politics… We feel that Sir Oswald has acted rightly—as he has certainly acted courageously—in declining to share any longer in the responsibility for inertia.” He attempted to persuade the Labour Party Conference in October, but was defeated again.
The memorandum called for high tariffs to protect British industries from international finance, for state nationalisation of industry and a programme of public works to solve unemployment. Thirty years later, in 1961, R. H. S. Crossman described the memorandum: “… this brilliant memorandum was a whole generation ahead of Labour thinking.”
The New Party increasingly inclined to fascist policies, but Mosley was denied the opportunity to get his party established when the 1931 election was suddenly called. All its candidates, including Mosley, lost their seats. As the New Party gradually became more radical and authoritarian, many previous supporters defected from it. Shortly after the election, he was described by the Manchester Guardian:
When Sir Oswald Mosley sat down after his Free Trade Hall speech in Manchester and the audience, stirred as an audience rarely is, rose and swept a storm of applause towards the platform—who could doubt that here was one of those root-and-branch men who have been thrown up from time to time in the religious, political and business story of England. First that gripping audience is arrested, then stirred and finally, as we have said, swept off its feet by a tornado of peroration yelled at the defiant high pitch of a tremendous voice.
After his failure in 1931 Mosley went on a study tour of the ‘new movements’ of Italy’s Benito Mussolini and other fascists, and returned convinced that it was the way forward for him and for Britain. He determined to unite the existing fascist movements and created the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932. The BUF was anti-communist and protectionist. It claimed membership as high as 50,000, and had the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror among its earliest (if, in the case of theMail, short-lived) supporters.
Mosley had found problems with disruption of New Party meetings, and instituted a corps of black-uniformed paramilitary stewards, nicknamed blackshirts. The party was frequently involved in violent confrontations, particularly with Communist and Jewish groups and especially in London. At a large Mosley rally at Olympia on 7 June 1934 mass brawling broke out when hecklers were removed by blackshirts, resulting in bad publicity. This and the Night of the Long Knives in Germany led to the loss of most of the BUF’s mass support. The party was unable to fight the 1935 general election.
In October 1936 Mosley and the BUF attempted to march through an area with a high proportion of Jewish residents, and violence resulted between local and nationally organised protesters trying to block the march and police trying to force it through, since called the Battle of Cable Street. At length Sir Philip Gamethe Police Commissioner disallowed the march from going ahead and the BUF abandoned it.
Mosley continued to organise marches policed by the blackshirts, and the government was sufficiently concerned to pass the Public Order Act 1936, which, amongst other things, banned political uniforms and quasi-military style organisations and came into effect on 1 January 1937.
In the London County Council elections in 1937 the BUF stood in three of its East London strongholds, polling up to a quarter of the vote. Mosley then made most of the employees redundant, some of whom then defected from the party with William Joyce. As the European situation moved towards war, the BUF began nominating Parliamentary candidates and launched campaigns on the theme of Mind Britain’s Business. After the outbreak of war he led the campaign for a negotiated peace. He was at first received well but, after the invasion of Norway, public opinion of him gave way to hostility and Mosley was nearly assaulted. 
On 23 May 1940 Mosley, who had continued his peace campaign, was interned under Defence Regulation 18B, along with most active fascists in Britain, and the BUF was later proscribed. His wife Diana Mitford was also interned, shortly after the birth of their son Max; they lived together for most of the war in a house in the grounds of Holloway prison.
Mosley used the time to read extensively on classical civilisations. Mosley refused visits from most BUF members, but on 18 March 1943 Dudley and Norah Elam (who had been released by then) accompanied Unity Mitford to see her sister Diana. Mosley agreed to be present because he mistakenly believed Diana and Unity’s mother Lady Redesdale was accompanying Unity.
The Mosleys were released in November 1943, when Mosley was suffering with phlebitis, and spent the rest of the war under house arrest. On his release from prison he stayed with his sister-in-lawPamela Mitford, followed shortly by a stay at the Shaven Crown Hotel in Shipton-under-Wychwood. He then purchased Crux Easton, near Newbury, with Diana. He and his wife were the subject of much media attention. The war ended what remained of his political reputation.
After the war Mosley was contacted by his former supporters and persuaded to rejoin active politics. He formed the Union Movement, calling for a single nation-state covering the continent of Europe (known as Europe a Nation), and later attempted to launch a National Party of Europe to this end. The Union Movement’s meetings were often physically disrupted, as Mosley’s meetings had been before the war, and largely by the same opponents.
This led to Mosley’s decision, in 1951, to leave Britain and live in Ireland. He later moved to Paris. Of his decision to leave, he said, “You don’t clear up a dungheap from underneath it.”
Mosley briefly returned to Britain in order to fight the 1959 general election at Kensington North, shortly after the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. Concerns over immigration were beginning to come into the spotlight for the first time and Mosley led his campaign on this issue. When Mosley’s final share of the vote was less than he expected, he launched a legal challenge to the election on the basis that the result had been rigged. The result was upheld.
Mosley died of natural causes on 3 December 1980 in his Orsay home, aged 84. He was cremated in Paris and his ashes were scattered on the pond at Orsay. His papers are housed at the University of Birmingham Special Collections.
This “In popular culture” section may contain minor or trivial references. Please reorganize this content to explain the subject’s impact on popular culture rather than simply listing appearances, and remove trivial references. (October 2011)
Mosley’s rising influence before the Second World War provoked alarm and reaction against would-be populist dictators by major cultural figures of the time:
In the 1986 film version of Colin MacInnes‘s book Absolute Beginners, Steven Berkoff appears as a Mosley-esque character billed as “The Fanatic”, who delivers a (rhyming) hate speech at a fascist election rally; it is generally assumed this is meant to be Mosley during his brief resurgence in 1958.
A semi-fictionalized depiction of Mosley, the BUF, and Battle of Cable Street appears in the 2010 BBC Wales revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, which is set in 1936.
The original version of the Elvis Costello song “Less Than Zero” is an attack on Mosley and his politics, but US listeners assumed that the “Mr Oswald” referred to was Lee Harvey Oswald and Costello obligingly wrote an alternative lyric in which it was.:74,84
In the film It Happened Here, Mosley is implied to be the puppet leader of German-occupied Britain.
In Guy Walters‘s alternative history novel The Leader, Mosley has taken power as “The Leader” of Great Britain in 1937. King Edward VIII is still on the throne, Winston Churchill is a prisoner on theIsle of Man, and Prime Minister Mosley is conspiring with Adolf Hitler about the fate of Britain’s Jewish population.
In Philip Roth‘s alternative history novel The Plot Against America, a secret pact between President Charles Lindbergh and Hitler is said to include an agreement to impose Mosley as the ruler of a German-occupied Britain with America’s blessing after a sham attempt by Lindbergh to convince Churchill to negotiate peace with Hitler would fail.
In Kim Newman‘s alternative history novel The Bloody Red Baron, Mosley is shot down and killed in 1918 by Erich von Stalhein (from the Biggles series by W. E. Johns), with a character later commenting that “a career has been ended before it was begun.”
WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THESE WALLS …. STAYS BEHIND THESE WALLS .!!!!!!!!!!
THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT WE HAVE NO LINKS OR AFFILIATION TO ANY EXTREMIST ORGANISATIONS OF ANY KIND WHATSOEVER ….. WE ARE SIMPLY A FREE SPEECH, POLITICALLY INCORRECT VISITOR ATTRACTION THAT FEATURE A GREAT MANY HISTORICALLY SENSITIVE AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTION DARES TO COVER .
AS WE ALWAYS SAY …. IF EASILY OFFENDED , DISTURBED OR OF A SENSITIVE NATURE THEN PLEASE DO AVOID A VISIT TO LITTLEDEAN JAIL
ABOVE : ORIGINAL OIL PAINTING BY PAUL BRIDGMAN AND COMMISIONED BY THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION ON DISPLAY HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL, DEPICTING NATHAN BEDFORD FORREST.
ABOVE : ORIGINAL OIL PAINTING BY PAUL BRIDGMAN AND COMMISIONED BY THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION ON DISPLAY HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL, DEPICTING WILLIAM JOSEPH SIMMONS.
Above is an intriguing video showing Mo Asumang, daughter of a black Ghanaian father and a white German mother, talks to BBC News about her experiences making her new documentary, The Aryans, in which she confronts racists, both in Germany and among the Ku Klux Klan in America.
THE KU KLUX KLAN & BLACK PANTHER PARTY EXHIBITION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL …. Deemed by many to be politically incorrect.. though in our view and indeed by a great many black people, an historically significant and educational insight .
Above : US President Donald Trump allegedly pictured here with members of the infamous and notorious Ku Klux klan .
THE KU KLUX KLAN AND BLACK PANTHER PARTY EXHIBITION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL ……A PART OF BLACK AMERICAN HISTORY THAT SHOULD NOT BE HIDDEN UNDER THE CARPET .
Below is an interesting video news item relating to an insight into the new KKK
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , IT’S OWNER , OR ANY OF IT’S STAFF HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAVE NO AFFILIATION , CONNECTION OR INVOLVEMENT WITH ANY EXTREMIST , POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR OTHERWISE MOVEMENTS WHATSOEVER …… WE SIMPLY EXHIBIT AND TOUCH UPON A GREAT MANY POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTIONS DARE COVER IN THE WAY WE CHOOSE TO DO HERE. …. “IT’S ALL HISTORY FOR GOODNESS SAKE”….EVEN IF ON OCCASIONS, SENSITIVE , THOUGHT PROVOKING SUBJECT MATTERS THAT INCITE STRONG DEBATE
BELOW IS A VERY BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE KU KLUX KLAN EXHIBITION ITEMS ON DISPLAY HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
The first Klan flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities. The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adopted the same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings. The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the Civil Rights Movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA’s “Anglo-Saxon” and “Celtic” blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claiming descent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries. The first and third incarnations of the Klan have well-established records of engaging in terrorism and political violence, though historians debate whether or not the tactic was supported by the second KKK.
First KKKThree Klans
The first Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, as a charitable organization to help widows and orphans. by veterans of the Confederate Army. They named it after the Greek wordkuklos, which means circle. The name means “Circle of Brothers.”
Although there was no organizational structure above the local level, similar groups arose across the South, adopting the name and methods. Klan groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement during the Reconstruction era in the United States. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan targeted freedmen and their allies; it sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, against black and white Republicans. In 1870 and 1871, the federal government passed the Force Acts, which were used to prosecute Klan crimes. Prosecution of Klan crimes and enforcement of the Force Acts suppressed Klan activity. In 1874 and later, however, newly organized and openly active paramilitary organizations, such as the White League and the Red Shirts, started a fresh round of violence aimed at suppressing blacks’ voting and running Republicans out of office. These contributed to segregationist white Democrats regaining political power in all the Southern states by 1877.
In 1915, the second Klan was founded in Georgia. Starting in 1921, it adopted a modern business system of recruiting (which paid most of the initiation fee and costume charges to the organizers) and grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity. Reflecting the social tensions of urban industrialization and vastly increased immigration, its membership grew most rapidly in cities, and spread to theMidwest and West out of the South. The second KKK preached “One Hundred Percent Americanism” demanded the purification of politics, calling for strict morality and better enforcement ofprohibition. Its official rhetoric focused on the threat of the Catholic Church, using anti-Catholicism and nativism. Its appeal was directed exclusively at white Protestants. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses and carried out other violent activities. The violent episodes were generally in the South.
The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization, with a national and state structure. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed to include about 15% of the nation’s eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men. Internal divisions, criminal behavior by leaders, and external opposition brought about a collapse in membership, which had dropped to about 30,000 by 1930. It finally faded away in the 1940s. Klan organizers also operated in Canada, especially in Saskatchewan in 1926-28, where it attacked immigrants from Eastern Europe.
Today, a large majority of sources consider the Klan to be a “subversive or terrorist organization”. In 1999, the city council of Charleston, South Carolina passed a resolution declaring the Klan to be a terrorist organization. A similar effort was made in 2004 when a professor at the University of Louisville began a campaign to have the Klan declared a terrorist organization so it could be banned from campus. In April 1997, FBI agents arrested four members of the True Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Dallas for conspiracy to commit robbery and to blow up a natural gas processing plant.
Historians generally see the KKK as part of the post Civil War insurgent violence related not only to the high number of veterans in the population, but also to their effort to control the dramatically changed social situation by using extrajudicial means to restore white supremacy. In 1866, MississippiGovernor William L. Sharkey reported that disorder, lack of control and lawlessness were widespread; in some states armed bands of Confederate soldiers roamed at will. The Klan used public violence against blacks as intimidation. They burned houses, and attacked and killed blacks, leaving their bodies on the roads.
A political cartoon depicting the KKK and the Democratic Party as continuations of the Confederacy
In an 1867 meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, Klan members gathered to try to create a hierarchical organization with local chapters eventually reporting up to a national headquarters. Since most of the Klan’s members were veterans, they were used to the hierarchical structure of the organization, but the Klan never operated under this centralized structure. Local chapters and bands were highly independent.
Former Confederate Brigadier General George Gordon developed the Prescript, or Klan dogma. The Prescript suggested elements of white supremacist belief. For instance, an applicant should be asked if he was in favor of “a white man’s government”, “the reenfranchisement and emancipation of the white men of the South, and the restitution of the Southern people to all their rights.” The latter is a reference to the Ironclad Oath, which stripped the vote from white persons who refused to swear that they had not borne arms against the Union. Gordon was said to have told former slave trader and Confederate GeneralNathan Bedford Forrest about the Klan. Forrest allegedly responded, “That’s a good thing; that’s a damn good thing. We can use that to keep the niggers in their place.” Forrest went on to become Grand Wizard, the Klan’s national leader.
In an 1868 newspaper interview, Forrest stated that the Klan’s primary opposition was to the Loyal Leagues, Republicanstate governments, people like Tennessee governor Brownlow and other carpetbaggers and scalawags. He argued that many southerners believed that blacks were voting for the Republican Party because they were being hoodwinked by the Loyal Leagues. One Alabama newspaper editor declared “The League is nothing more than a nigger Ku Klux Klan.”
Despite Gordon’s and Forrest’s work, local Klan units never accepted the Prescript and continued to operate autonomously. There were never hierarchical levels or state headquarters. Klan members used violence to settle old feuds and local grudges, as they worked to restore white dominance in the disrupted postwar society. The historian Elaine Frantz Parsons describes the membership:
Lifting the Klan mask revealed a chaotic multitude of antiblack vigilante groups, disgruntled poor white farmers, wartimeguerrilla bands, displaced Democratic politicians, illegal whiskeydistillers, coercive moral reformers, sadists, rapists, white workmen fearful of black competition, employers trying to enforce labor discipline, common thieves, neighbors with decades-old grudges, and even a few freedmen and white Republicans who allied with Democratic whites or had criminal agendas of their own. Indeed, all they had in common, besides being overwhelmingly white, southern, and Democratic, was that they called themselves, or were called, Klansmen.
In effect, the Klan was a military force serving the interests of the Democratic party, the planter class, and all those who desired restoration of white supremacy. Its purposes were political, but political in the broadest sense, for it sought to affect power relations, both public and private, throughout Southern society. It aimed to reverse the interlocking changes sweeping over the South during Reconstruction: to destroy the Republican party’s infrastructure, undermine the Reconstruction state, reestablish control of the black labor force, and restore racial subordination in every aspect of Southern life.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Klan members adopted masks and robes that hid their identities and added to the drama of their night rides, their chosen time for attacks. Many of them operated in small towns and rural areas where people otherwise knew each other’s faces, and sometimes still recognized the attackers. “The kind of thing that men are afraid or ashamed to do openly, and by day, they accomplish secretly, masked, and at night.” With this method both the high and the low could be attacked. The Ku Klux Klan night riders “sometimes claimed to be ghosts of Confederate soldiers so, as they claimed, to frighten superstitious blacks. Few freedmen took such nonsense seriously.”
The Klan attacked black members of the Loyal Leagues and intimidated southern Republicans and Freedmen’s Bureau workers. When they killed black political leaders, they also took heads of families, along with the leaders of churches and community groups, because these people had many roles in society. Agents of the Freedmen’s Bureau reported weekly assaults and murders of blacks. “Armed guerrilla warfare killed thousands of Negroes; political riots were staged; their causes or occasions were always obscure, their results always certain: ten to one hundred times as many Negroes were killed as whites.” Masked men shot into houses and burned them, sometimes with the occupants still inside. They drove successful black farmers off their land. “Generally, it can be reported that in North and South Carolina, in 18 months ending in June 1867, there were 197 murders and 548 cases of aggravated assault.”
Klan violence worked to suppress black voting. More than 2,000 persons were killed, wounded and otherwise injured in Louisiana within a few weeks prior to the Presidential election of November 1868. Although St. Landry Parish had a registered Republican majority of 1,071, after the murders, no Republicans voted in the fall elections. White Democrats cast the full vote of the parish for Grant’s opponent. The KKK killed and wounded more than 200 black Republicans, hunting and chasing them through the woods. Thirteen captives were taken from jail and shot; a half-buried pile of 25 bodies was found in the woods. The KKK made people vote Democratic and gave them certificates of the fact.
Klansmen killed more than 150 African Americans in a county in Florida, and hundreds more in other counties. Freedmen’s Bureau records provided a detailed recounting of Klansmen’s beatings and murders of freedmen and their white allies.
Milder encounters also occurred. In Mississippi, according to the Congressional inquiry:
One of these teachers (Miss Allen of Illinois), whose school was at Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County, was visited … between one and two o’clock in the morning on March 1871, by about fifty men mounted and disguised. Each man wore a long white robe and his face was covered by a loose mask with scarlet stripes. She was ordered to get up and dress which she did at once and then admitted to her room the captain and lieutenant who in addition to the usual disguise had long horns on their heads and a sort of device in front. The lieutenant had a pistolin his hand and he and the captain sat down while eight or ten men stood inside the door and the porch was full. They treated her “gentlemanly and quietly” but complained of the heavy school-tax, said she must stop teaching and go away and warned her that they never gave a second notice. She heeded the warning and left the county.
By 1868, two years after the Klan’s creation, its activity was beginning to decrease. Members were hiding behind Klan masks and robes as a way to avoid prosecution for freelance violence. Many influential southern Democrats feared that Klan lawlessness provided an excuse for the federal government to retain its power over the South, and they began to turn against it. There were outlandish claims made, such as Georgian B. H. Hill stating “that some of these outrages were actually perpetrated by the political friends of the parties slain.”
Union Army veterans in mountainous Blount County, Alabama, organized “the anti-Ku Klux”. They put an end to violence by threatening Klansmen with reprisals unless they stopped whipping Unionists and burning black churches and schools. Armed blacks formed their own defense in Bennettsville, South Carolina and patrolled the streets to protect their homes.
National sentiment gathered to crack down on the Klan, even though some Democrats at the national level questioned whether the Klan really existed or believed that it was just a creation of nervous Southern Republican governors. Many southern states began to pass anti-Klan legislation.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant signed Butler’s legislation. The Ku Klux Klan Act was used by the Federal government together with the 1870 Force Act, another act that President Grant signed, to enforce the civil rights provisions for individuals under the constitution. Under the 1871 Klan Act, after the Klan refused to voluntarily dissolve, President Grant issued a suspension of Habeas Corpus, and sent Federal troops into 9 South Carolina counties. The Klansmen were arrested and prosecuted in Federal court. More African Americans served on juries in Federal court than were selected for local or state juries, so they had a chance to participate in the process. In the crackdown, hundreds of Klan members were fined or imprisoned.
The Klan declines and is superseded by other groups
Although Forrest boasted that the Klan was a nationwide organization of 550,000 men and that he could muster 40,000 Klansmen within five days’ notice, as a secret or “invisible” group, it had no membership rosters, no chapters, and no local officers. It was difficult for observers to judge its actual membership. It had created a sensation by the dramatic nature of its masked forays and because of its many murders.
In 1870 a federal grand jury determined that the Klan was a “terrorist organization”. It issued hundreds of indictments for crimes of violence and terrorism. Klan members were prosecuted, and many fled from areas that were under federal government jurisdiction, particularly in South Carolina. Many people not formally inducted into the Klan had used the Klan’s costume for anonymity, to hide their identities when carrying out acts of violence. Forrest ordered the Klan to disband in 1869, stating that it was “being perverted from its original honorable and patriotic purposes, becoming injurious instead of subservient to the public peace”. HistorianStanley Horn writes “generally speaking, the Klan’s end was more in the form of spotty, slow, and gradual disintegration than a formal and decisive disbandment”.A reporter in Georgia wrote in January 1870, “A true statement of the case is not that the Ku Klux are an organized band of licensed criminals, but that men who commit crimes call themselves Ku Klux”.
While people used the Klan as a mask for nonpolitical crimes, state and local governments seldom acted against them. African Americans were kept off juries. In lynching cases, all-white juries almost never indicted Ku Klux Klan members. When there was a rare indictment, juries were unlikely to vote for a conviction. In part, jury members feared reprisals from local Klansmen.
Others may have agreed with lynching as a way of keeping dominance over black men. In many states, officials were reluctant to use black militia against the Klan out of fear that racial tensions would be raised. When Republican Governor of North CarolinaWilliam Woods Holden called out the militia against the Klan in 1870, it added to his unpopularity. Combined with violence and fraud at the polls, the Republicans lost their majority in the state legislature. Disaffection with Holden’s actions led to white Democratic legislators’ impeaching Holden and removing him from office, but their reasons were numerous.
The Klan was destroyed in South Carolina and decimated throughout the rest of the South, where it had already been in decline. Attorney General Amos Tappan Ackerman led the prosecutions.
In some areas, other local paramilitary organizations such as the White League, Red Shirts, saber clubs, and rifle clubs continued to intimidate and murder black voters.
In 1874, organized white paramilitary groups were formed in the Deep South to replace the faltering Klan: the White League in Louisiana and the Red Shirts inMississippi, North and South Carolina. They campaigned openly to turn Republicans out of office, intimidated and killed black voters, tried to disrupt organizing and suppressed black voting. They were out in force during the campaigns and elections of 1874 and 1876, contributing to the conservative Democrats regaining power in 1876, against a background of electoral violence.
Shortly after, in United States v. Cruikshank (1875), the Supreme Court ruled that the Force Act of 1870 did not give the Federal government power to regulate private actions, but only those by state governments. The result was that as the century went on, African Americans were at the mercy of hostile state governments that refused to intervene against private violence and paramilitary groups.
Whereas the number of indictments across the South was large, the number of cases leading to prosecution and sentencing was relatively small. The overloaded federal courts were not able to meet the demands of trying such a tremendous number of cases, a situation that led to selective pardoning. By late 1873 and 1874, most of the charges against Klansmen were dropped although new cases continued to be prosecuted for several more years. Most of those sentenced had either served their terms or had been pardoned by 1875. The Supreme Court of the United States eviscerated the Ku Klux Act in 1876 by ruling that the federal government could no longer prosecute individuals although states would be forced to comply with federal civil rights provisions. Republicans passed a second civil rights act (the Civil Rights Act of 1875) to grant equal access to public facilities and other housing accommodations regardless of race. Ironically, the Klan during this period served to further Northern reconstruction efforts, as Ku Klux violence provided the political climate needed to pass civil rights protections for blacks. Although the Ku Klux Act of 1871 dismantled the first Klan, Southern whites formed other, similar groups that kept blacks away from the polls through intimidation and physical violence. Reconstruction ended with the election of President Rutherford B. Hayes, who suspended the federal military occupation of the South; yet blacks still found themselves without the basic civil liberties that Congressional Republicans had sought to secure.
Klan costumes, also called “regalia“, disappeared by the early 1870s (Wade 1987, p. 109). The fact that the Klan did not exist for decades was shown when Simmons’s 1915 recreation of the Klan attracted only two aging “former Reconstruction Klansmen.” All other members were new. By 1872, the Klan was broken as an organization. Nonetheless, the goals that the Klan had failed to achieve itself, such as suppressing suffrage for Southern blacks and driving a wedge between poor whites and blacks, were largely accomplished by the 1890s by militant Southern whites. Lynchings of African Americans, far from being ended by the Klan’s disintegration, instead peaked in 1892 with 161 deaths.
The second Klan: 1915–1944
Refounding in 1915
Three events in 1915 acted as catalysts to the revival of the Klan:
Jewish businessman Leo Frank was lynched near Atlanta after the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Frank had been convicted in 1913 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young white factory worker named Mary Phagan, in a trial marked by intimidation of the jury and media frenzy. His legal appeals had been exhausted.
The second Ku Klux Klan was founded by William J. Simmons at Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta. It added to the original anti-black ideology with a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionistand antisemitic agenda. Most of the founders were from an Atlanta-area organization calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan, which had organized around Leo Frank’s trial. The new organization emulated the fictionalized version of the Klan presented in The Birth of a Nation.
The Birth of a Nation
An illustration from The Clansman: “Take dat f’um yo equal—”
Director D. W. Griffith‘s The Birth of a Nation glorified the original Klan. His film was based on the book and play The Clansman and the book The Leopard’s Spots, both by Thomas Dixon, Jr. Dixon said his purpose was “to revolutionize northern sentiment by a presentation of history that would transform every man in my audience into a good Democrat!” The film created a nationwide Klan craze. At the official premier in Atlanta, members of the Klan rode up and down the street in front of the theater.
Much of the modern Klan’s iconography, including the standardized white costume and the lighted cross, are derived from the film. Its imagery was based on Dixon’s romanticized concept of old England and Scotland, as portrayed in the novels and poetry of Sir Walter Scott. The film’s influence and popularity were enhanced by a widely reported endorsement by historian and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
The Birth of a Nation included extensive quotations from Woodrow Wilson’s History of the American People, as if to give it a stronger basis. After seeing the film in a special White House screening, Wilson allegedly said, “It is like writing history with lightning, and my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Wilson’s remarks immediately became controversial. Wilson tried to remain aloof, but finally, on April 30, he issued a non-denial denial. Wilson’s aide, Joseph Tumulty said, “the President was entirely unaware of the nature of the play before it was presented and at no time has expressed his approbation of it.”
The new Klan was inaugurated in 1915 at a meeting led by William J. Simmons on top of Stone Mountain. A few aging members of the original Klan attended, along with members of the self-named Knights of Mary Phagan.
Simmons stated that he had been inspired by the original Klan’s Prescripts, written in 1867 by Confederate veteran George Gordon in an attempt to create a national organization. These were never adopted by the Klan, however. The Prescript stated the Klan’s purposes in idealistic terms, hiding the fact that its members committed acts of vigilante violence and murder from behind masks.
The Second Klan saw threats from every direction. A religious tone was apparent in all of its activities; indeed, “two-thirds of the national Klan lecturers were Protestant ministers,” says historian Brian R. Farmer. Much of the Klan’s energy went to guarding the home, in its view, says historian Kathleen Blee, to protect “the interests of white womanhood.”
The second Klan arose during the nadir of American race relations, in response to urbanization and industrialization. Massive immigration of Catholics and Jews from eastern and southern Europe led to fears among Protestants. The Great Migration of African Americans to the North stoked racism by whites in Northern industrial cities; thus the second Klan would achieve its greatest political power not in any Southern state, but in Indiana. The migration of African Americans and whites from rural areas to Southern cities further increased tensions. The Klan grew most rapidly in urbanizing cities which had high growth rates between 1910 and 1930, such as Detroit, Memphis, Dayton, Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston. InMichigan, more than half of the members lived in Detroit and were concerned about urban issues: limited housing, rapid social change, competition for jobs.Stanley Horn, a Southern historian sympathetic to the first Klan, was careful in an oral interview to distinguish it from the later “spurious Ku Klux organization which was in ill-repute—and, of course, had no connection whatsoever with the Klan of Reconstruction days”.
Klan organizers, called “Kleagles“, signed up hundreds of new members, who paid initiation fees and bought KKK costumes. The organizer kept half the money and sent the rest to state or national officials. When the organizer was done with an area, he organized a huge rally, often with burning crosses and perhaps presented a Bible to a local Protestant minister. He then left town with the money. The local units operated like many fraternal organizations and occasionally brought in speakers.
The Klan’s growth was also affected by mobilization for World War I and postwar tensions, especially in the cities where strangers came up against each other more often. Southern whites resented the arming of black soldiers. Black veterans did not want to go back to second-class status in the United States. Some were lynched, still in uniform, upon returning from overseas service.
Simmons initially met with little success in either recruiting members or in raising money, and the Klan remained a small operation in the Atlanta area until 1920, when he handed its day-to-day activities over to two professional publicists, Elizabeth Tyler and Edward Young Clarke. The Klan now expanded exponentially, reaching a mass national base by 1925. The remodeled Klan downplayed the old issues left over from Reconstruction, and focused on anti-Jewish, anti-Catholic, anti-Communist and anti-immigrant appeals. It now sold itself as a nativist and strenuously patriotic organization, and it emphasized its support for vigorous enforcement of prohibition laws. Most of its members lived in the North and West.
Historians agree that the Klan’s resurgence in the 1920s was aided by the national debate over prohibition. Thus Prendergast contends that the KKK’s “support for Prohibition represented the single most important bond between Klansmen throughout the nation”. The Klan opposed bootleggers, sometimes with violence. In 1922, two hundred Klan members set fire to saloons in Union County, Arkansas. The national Klan office was finally established in Dallas,Texas, but Little Rock, Arkansas was the home of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan. The first head of this auxiliary was a former president of the ArkansasWCTU.[verification needed] Membership in the Klan and in other prohibition groups overlapped, and they often coordinated activities.
Labor and anti-unionism
In southern cities such as Birmingham, Alabama, Klan members kept control of access to the better-paying industrial jobs but opposed unions. During the 1930s and 1940s, Klan leaders urged members to disrupt the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), which advocated industrial unions and was open to African-American members. With access to dynamite and using the skills from their jobs in mining and steel, in the late 1940s some Klan members in Birmingham began to perpetrate bombings in order to intimidate upwardly mobile blacks who moved into middle-class neighborhoods. “By mid-1949, there were so many charred house carcasses that the area [College Hills] was informally named Dynamite Hill.” Independent Klan groups remained active in Birmingham and were deeply engaged in violent opposition to the Civil Rights Movement.
A significant characteristic of the second Klan was that it was an organization based in urban areas, reflecting the major shifts of population to cities in both the North and the South. In Michigan, for instance, 40,000 members lived in Detroit, where they made up more than half of the state’s membership. Most Klansmen were lower- to middle-class whites who were trying to protect their jobs and housing from the waves of newcomers to the industrial cities: immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who tended to be Catholic and Jewish in numbers higher than earlier groups of immigrants; and black and white migrants from the South. As new populations poured into cities, rapidly changing neighborhoods created social tensions. Because of the rapid pace of population growth in industrializing cities such as Detroit and Chicago, the Klan grew rapidly in the U.S. Midwest. The Klan also grew in booming Southern cities such as Dallas and Houston.
In the medium-size industrial city of Worcester, Massachusetts in the 1920s, the Klan ascended to power quickly but diminished as a result of opposition from the Catholic Church. There was no violence and the local newspaper ridiculed Klansmen as “night-shirt knights”. Half of the members were Swedish American, including some first-generation immigrants. The ethnic and religious conflicts between Worcester residents is discussed. Swedish Protestants fought against Irish Catholics for political and ideological control of the city.
For some states, historians have obtained membership rosters of some local units and matched the names against city directory and local records to create statistical profiles of the membership. Big city newspapers were often hostile and ridiculed Klansmen as ignorant farmers. Detailed analysis from Indianashowed the rural stereotype was false for that state:
Indiana’s Klansmen represented a wide cross section of society: they were not disproportionately urban or rural, nor were they significantly more or less likely than other members of society to be from the working class, middle class, or professional ranks. Klansmen were Protestants, of course, but they cannot be described exclusively or even predominantly as fundamentalists. In reality, their religious affiliations mirrored the whole of white Protestant society, including those who did not belong to any church.
The Klan attracted people but most of them did not remain in the organization for long. Membership in the Klan turned over rapidly as people found out that it was not the group they wanted. Millions joined, and at its peak in the 1920s, the organization included about 15% of the nation’s eligible population. The lessening of social tensions contributed to the Klan’s decline.
The second Klan adopted a burning Latin cross as its symbol. No such crosses had been used by the first Klan, but the burning cross was used as a symbol of intimidation by the second Klan. The burning of the cross was also used by the second Klan as a symbol of Christian fellowship, and its lighting during meetings was steeped in Christian prayer, the singing of hymns, and other overtly religious symbolism.
The practice of cross burning had been loosely based on ancient Scottish clans’ burning a St. Andrew’s cross (an X-shaped cross) as a beacon to muster forces for war. In The Clansman (see above), Dixon had falsely claimed that the first Klan had used fiery crosses when rallying to fight against Reconstruction. Griffith brought this image to the screen in The Birth of a Nation; he portrayed the burning cross as an upright Latin cross rather than the St. Andrew’s cross. Simmons adopted the symbol wholesale from the movie, prominently displaying it at the 1915 Stone Mountain meeting. The symbol has been associated with the Klan ever since.
In 1921, in an attempt to gain a foothold in education, the Klan bought Lanier University, a struggling Baptist university in Atlanta. Nathan Bedford Forrest, grandson of the confederate general by the same name, was appointed business manager, and the school would teach “pure, 100 percent Americanism”. Enrollment was dismal and the school closed after its first year of Klan ownership.
The Klan had numerous members in every part of the U.S. At its peak, claimed Klan membership exceeded four million and comprised 20% of the adult white male population in many broad geographic regions, and 40% in some areas. The Klan also moved north into Canada, especially Saskatchewan, where it opposed Catholics.
The Klan issue played a significant role at the bitterly divisive 1924 Democratic National Convention in New York City. The leading candidates were Protestant William Gibbs McAdoo, with a base in areas where the Klan was strong, and Catholic New York Governor Al Smith, with a base in the large cities. After weeks of stalemate, both candidates withdrew in favor of a compromise. Anti-Klan delegates proposed a resolution indirectly attacking the Klan; it was narrowly defeated.
In some states, such as Alabama and California, the KKK worked for political reform. In 1924, the Klan became active in local politics in Anaheim, California. The city had been controlled by an entrenched commercial-civic elite that was mostlyGerman American. The elite gave little support to the prohibition laws—the mayor, for example, had been a saloon keeper. The Klan, led by the minister of the First Christian Church, represented a rising group of politically oriented non-German citizens who had been shut out of influence and who denounced the elite as corrupt, undemocratic and self-serving. Cocoltchos says the Klansmen sought to create a model orderly community. There were about 1200 Klan members in orange County, and Cocoltchos tracked them through local records, comparing them to 300 prominent anti-Klan activists. The economic and occupational profile of the pro and anti-Klan groups shows the two were similar and about equally prosperous. Cocoltchos finds no evidence of status anxiety. The Klansmen were all Protestants, as were most of the antis, but the antis also enlisted many Catholic Germans. The Klansmen had a much higher rate of voting and joining nonpartisan civic groups (such as the Chamber of Commerce) than the othersbefore they joined the Klan, suggesting to Cocoltchos it was a high sense of civic activism that led to joining the KKK in the first place. The Klan easily won the hotly contested local election in Anaheim in April 1924. They systematically fired Catholic city employees and replaced them with Klansmen. The new city council tried to strictly enforce prohibition, and the Klan held large rallies and initiation ceremonies over the summer. The opposition organized, bribed a Klansman for the secret membership list, exposed the Klansmen running in the primaries and defeated most of them. The antis stepped up the campaign in 1925 and succeeded in a hotly contested election in voting to recall the Klansmen who had been elected in April 1924. The Klan in Anaheim quickly collapsed, its newspaper closed after losing a libel suit, and the minister who led the local Klavern moved to Kansas.
In Alabama the Klansmen were among the foremost advocates of better public schools, effective prohibition enforcement, expanded road construction, and other political measures which benefited lower-class white people. By 1925, the Klan was a political force in the state, as leaders such as J. Thomas Heflin, David Bibb Graves, and Hugo Black manipulated the KKK membership to try to build political power against the Black Belt planters, who had long dominated the state. Black was elected US senator in 1926; President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Black to the Supreme Court not knowing he had been active in the Klan in the 1920s. In 1926, with Klan support, Bibb Graves won the Alabama governor’s office. He was a former Klan chapter head. He pushed for increased education funding, better public health, new highway construction, and pro-labor legislation. Because the Alabama state legislature refused to redistrict until 1972, however, even the Klan was unable to break the planters’ and rural areas’ hold on legislative power.
Its predecessor had been an exclusively partisan Democratic organization in the South. The second Klan grew in the Midwest, where for a time, its members were courted by both Republicans and Democrats. The KKK state organizations endorsed candidates from either party that supported its goals; Prohibition in particular helped the Klan and some Republicans to make common cause in the Midwest. In the South, however, the southern Klan remained Democratic, closely allied with Democratic police, sheriffs, and other functionaries of local government. With continuing disfranchisement of most African Americans and many poor whites, the only political activity took place within the Democratic Party.
Resistance and decline
The Ku Klux Klan rose to prominence in Indiana politics and society after World War I. It was made up of American-born, white Protestants of many income and social levels. Nationally, in the 1920s, Indiana had the most powerful Ku Klux Klan. Though it counted a high number of members statewide (over 30% of its white male citizens), its importance peaked with the 1924 election of Edward Jackson for governor. A short time later, the scandal surrounding the murder trial of D.C. Stephenson destroyed the image of the Ku Klux Klan as upholders of law and order. By 1926 the Ku Klux Klan was “crippled and discredited.”
D. C. Stephenson, Grand Dragon of the Indiana Klan. His conviction for murdering a young white schoolteacher in 1925 devastated the Indiana Klan.
D. C. Stephenson was the Grand Dragon of Indiana and 22 northern states. He led the states under his control to separate from the national KKK organization in 1923. In his 1925 trial, he was convicted for second degree murder for his part in the rape and subsequent death of Madge Oberholtzer. After Stephenson’s conviction in a sensational trial, the Klan declined dramatically in Indiana. Historian Leonard Moore concluded that a failure in leadership caused the Klan’s collapse:
Stephenson and the other salesmen and office seekers who maneuvered for control of Indiana’s Invisible Empire lacked both the ability and the desire to use the political system to carry out the Klan’s stated goals. They were uninterested in, or perhaps even unaware of, grass roots concerns within the movement. For them, the Klan had been nothing more than a means for gaining wealth and power. These marginal men had risen to the top of the hooded order because, until it became a political force, the Klan had never required strong, dedicated leadership. More established and experienced politicians who endorsed the Klan, or who pursued some of the interests of their Klan constituents, also accomplished little. Factionalism created one barrier, but many politicians had supported the Klan simply out of expedience. When charges of crime and corruption began to taint the movement, those concerned about their political futures had even less reason to work on the Klan’s behalf.
Many groups and leaders, including prominent Protestant ministers such as Reinhold Niebuhr in Detroit, spoke out against the Klan. In response to blunt attacks against Jewish Americans and the Klan’s campaign to outlaw private schools, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League was formed after the lynching of Leo Frank. When one civic group began to publish Klan membership lists, the number of members quickly declined. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoplecarried on public education campaigns in order to inform people about Klan activities and lobbied against Klan abuses in Congress. After its peak in 1925, Klan membership in most areas of the Midwest began to decline rapidly.
In Alabama, KKK vigilantes, thinking that they had governmental protection, launched a wave of physical terror in 1927. They targeted both blacks and whites for violation of racial norms and for perceived moral lapses. This led however to a large backlash beginning in the media. Grover C. Hall, Sr., editor of the Montgomery Advertiser, began publishing a series of editorials and articles that attacked the Klan for its “racial and religious intolerance”. Hall won a Pulitzer Prize for his crusade. Other newspapers kept up a steady, loud attack on the Klan, referring to the organization as violent and “un-American”. Sheriffs cracked down. In the 1928 presidential election, the state voted for the Democratic candidate Al Smith, although he was Catholic.
Klan membership in Alabama dropped to less than 6,000 by 1930. Small independent units continued to be active in Birmingham, where in the late 1940s, members launched a reign of terror by bombing the homes of upwardly mobile African Americans. Activism by such independent KKK groups increased as a reaction against the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
Ku Klux Klan members march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. in 1928
Due in part to the Klan terror directed at them, five million blacks left the South for northern, midwestern and western cities from 1940 to 1970.
After World War II, folklorist and author Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klan and provided information to media and law enforcement agencies. He also provided secret code words to the writers of the Superman radio program, resulting in episodes in which Superman took on the KKK. Kennedy’s intention to strip away the Klan’s mystique and trivialize the Klan’s rituals and code words may have contributed to the decline in Klan recruiting and membership. In the 1950s, Kennedy wrote a bestselling book about his experiences, which further damaged the Klan.
The following table shows the change in the Klan’s estimated membership over time. (The years given in the table represent approximate time periods.)
Soviet propaganda poster (Freedom, American style, 1950, by Nikolay Dolgorukov and Boris Efimov), showing the KKK’s lynchings of blacks.
The name “Ku Klux Klan” began to be used by several independent groups. Beginning in the 1950s, for instance, individual Klan groups in Birmingham, Alabama, began to resist social change and blacks’ improving their lives by bombing houses in transitional neighborhoods. There were so many bombings in Birmingham of blacks’ homes by Klan groups in the 1950s that the city’s nickname was “Bombingham”.
During the tenure of Bull Connor as police commissioner in the city, Klan groups were closely allied with the police and operated with impunity. When the Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham, Connor gave Klan members fifteen minutes to attack the riders before sending in the police to quell the attack. When local and state authorities failed to protect the Freedom Riders and activists, the federal government established effective intervention.
In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, Klan members forged alliances with governors’ administrations. In Birmingham and elsewhere, the KKK groups bombed the houses of civil rights activists. In some cases they used physical violence, intimidation and assassination directly against individuals. Many murders went unreported and were not prosecuted by local and state authorities. Continuing disfranchisement of blacks across the South meant that most could not serve on juries, which were all white.
According to a report from the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, the homes of 40 black Southern families were bombed during 1951 and 1952. Some of the bombing victims were social activists whose work exposed them to danger, but most were either people who refused to bow to racist convention or were innocent bystanders, unsuspecting victims of random violence.
The 1965 Alabama murder of Viola Liuzzo. She was a Southern-raised Detroit mother of five who was visiting the state in order to attend a civil rights march. At the time of her murder Liuzzo was transporting Civil Rights Marchers.
The 1966 firebombing death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., 58, in Mississippi. In 1998 former Ku Klux Klan wizard Sam Bowers was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life. Two other Klan members were indicted with Bowers, but one died before trial, and the other’s indictment was dismissed.
There was also resistance to the Klan. In 1953, newspaper publisher W. Horace Carter received a Pulitzer prize for reporting on the activities of the Klan. In a 1958 North Carolina incident, the Klan burned crosses at the homes of two Lumbee Native Americans who had associated with white people, and they threatened to return with more men. When the KKK held a nighttime rally nearby, they were quickly surrounded by hundreds of armed Lumbees. Gunfire was exchanged, and the Klan was routed at what became known as the Battle of Hayes Pond.
While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had paid informants in the Klan, for instance in Birmingham in the early 1960s, its relations with local law enforcement agencies and the Klan were often ambiguous. The head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, appeared more concerned about Communist links to civil rights activists than about controlling Klan excesses against citizens. In 1964, the FBI’sCOINTELPRO program began attempts to infiltrate and disrupt civil rights groups.
Jerry Thompson, a newspaper reporter who infiltrated the KKK in 1979, reported that the FBI’s COINTELPRO efforts were highly successful. Rival KKK factions accused each other’s leaders of being FBI informants. Bill Wilkinson of the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was revealed to have been working for the FBI.
Thompson, the journalist who claimed he had infiltrated the Klan, related that KKK leaders who appeared indifferent to the threat of arrest showed great concern about a series of civil lawsuits filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center for damages of millions of dollars. These were filed after KKK members shot into a group of African Americans. Klansmen curtailed activities to conserve money for defense against the lawsuits. The KKK also used lawsuits as tools; they filed a libel suit to prevent publication of a paperback edition of Thompson’s book.
In 1980, three KKK members shot four elderly black women (Viola Ellison, Lela Evans, Opal Jackson and Katherine Johnson) in Chattanooga, Tennessee, following a KKK initiation rally. A fifth woman, Fannie Crumsey, was injured by flying glass in the incident. Attempted murder charges were filed against the three KKK members, two of whom—Bill Church and Larry Payne—were acquitted by an all-white jury, and the other of whom—Marshall Thrash—was sentenced by the same jury to nine months on lesser charges. He was released after three months. In 1982, a jury awarded the five women $535,000 in a civil rights trial.
Michael Donald lynching
After Michael Donald was lynched in 1981 in Alabama, the FBI investigated his death and two local KKK members were convicted of having a role, including Henry Francis Hays, who was sentenced to death. With the support of attorneys Morris Dees and Joseph J. Levin of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Donald’s mother, Beulah Mae Donald, sued the KKK in civil court in Alabama. Her lawsuit against the United Klans of America was tried in February 1987. The all-white jury found the Klan responsible for the lynching of Donald and ordered the Klan to pay US$7 million. To pay the judgment, the KKK turned over all of its assets, including its national headquarters building in Tuscaloosa. After exhausting the appeals process, Hays was executed for Donald’s death in Alabama on June 6, 1997. It was the first time since 1913 that a white man had been executed in Alabama for a crime against an African American.
The modern KKK is not one organization; rather it is composed of small independent chapters across the U.S. The formation of independent chapters has made KKK groups more difficult to infiltrate, and researchers find it hard to estimate their numbers. Estimates are that about two-thirds of KKK members are concentrated in the Southern United States, with another third situated primarily in the lower Midwest. KKK members have stepped up recruitment in recent years, but the organization grows slowly, with membership estimated at 5,000–8,000 across 179 chapters. These recent membership campaigns have been based on issues such as people’s anxieties about illegal immigration, urban crime and same-sex marriage. Many KKK groups have formed strong alliances with other white supremacist groups, such as neo-Nazis. Some KKK groups have become increasingly “Nazified”, adopting the look and emblems of white power skinheads.
On November 14, 2008, an all-white jury of seven men and seven women awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Jordan Gruver, represented by theSouthern Poverty Law Center against the Imperial Klans of America. The ruling found that five IKA members had savagely beaten Gruver, then 16 years old, at a Kentucky county fair in July 2006.
Current Klan splinter divisions have grown substantially since the 2008 election of U.S. President Barack Obama, the first African-American to hold the office; the Klan has expanded its recruitment efforts to white supremacists at the international level. Current membership estimates by the ADL hold at a national estimate of five thousand.
Ex-Grand Wizard David Duke has claimed that thousands of Tea Party movement activists have urged him to run for president in 2012 and he is seriously considering entering the Republican Party primaries. Duke has also released a video detailing his platform. In the video, he pledges that as president he would stop all immigration to the U.S., including legal immigration, and says that he “will not let Israel or any nation dictate our foreign policy.” He has also claimed that he would be “willing to risk life and limb, endure the barbs of the media” to mount “the most honest campaign for president since the time of our Founding Fathers.” However, Duke is legally disqualified from running for public office as part of his 2002 guilty plea for tax evasion.
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, headed by national director and self-claimed pastor Thom Robb, and based in Zinc, Arkansas. It claims to be the biggest Klan organization in America today.
Aside from Canada, there have been various attempts to organise KKK chapters outside of the United States. In Australia in the late 1990s, former One Nation founding member Peter Coleman established branches throughout the country, and in recent years the KKK has attempted to infiltrate other political parties such as Australia First. Recruitment activity has also been reported in Britain.
Membership in the Klan is secret. Like many fraternal organizations, the Klan has signs which members can use to recognize one another. A member may use the acronym AYAK (Are you a Klansman?) in conversation to surreptitiously identify himself to another potential member. The response AKIA (A Klansman I am) completes the greeting.
Throughout its varied history, the Klan has coined many words beginning with “Kl” including:
All of the above terminology was created by William Simmons, as part of his 1915 revival of the Klan. The Reconstruction-era Klan used different titles; the only titles to carry over were “Wizard” for the overall leader of the Klan and “Night Hawk” for the official in charge of security.
The Imperial Kludd was the chaplain of the Imperial Klonvokation and he performed “such other duties as may be required by the Imperial Wizard.” The Imperial Kaliff was the second highest position after the Imperial Wizard.
HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL AND THROUGH OUR BUSINESS FACEBOOK WE TRY AND PROVIDE A BALANCED AND HOPEFULLY HISTORICALLY EDUCATIONAL INTERACTIVE INSIGHT INTO WHAT MANY DEEM TO BE TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS .
PLEASE DO BE AWARE THAT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , IT’S OWNER , OR ANY OF IT’S STAFF HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAVE NO AFFILIATION, CONNECTION OR INVOLVEMENT WITH ANY EXTREMIST , POLITICALLY MOTIVATED OR ANY OTHER MOVEMENTS WHATSOEVER …… WE SIMPLY EXHIBIT AND TOUCH UPON A GREAT MANY POLITICALLY INCORRECT AND TABOO SUBJECT MATTERS THAT NO OTHER VISITOR ATTRACTIONS DARE COVER IN THE WAY WE CHOOSE TO DO HERE. …. “IT’S ALL HISTORY FOR GOODNESS SAKE”….EVEN IF ON OCCASIONS, SENSITIVE , THOUGHT PROVOKING SUBJECT MATTERS THAT INCITE STRONG DEBATE .
WIDELY REGARDED TO BE BLACK RACIST MOVIES MANY OF THESE NOW BANNED KU KLUX KLAN MOVIE POSTERS WERE DEEMED TO BE A GLORIFICATION TOOL AND USED FOR RECRUITMENT OF NEW MEMBERS INTO THIS WHITE EXTREMIST HOODED ROBE MOVEMENT
HERE BELOW IS A BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE KKK MEMORBILIA ITEMS HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL
Movies about the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
Ever since the release of legendary director D.W. Griffith’s controversial epic The Birth of the Nation (1915), based on Thomas F. Dixon Jr.’s (play and) novel titled The Clansman: An Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan and featuring silent star Lillian Gish and future Oscar winner Donald Crisp (among others), classic Hollywood seems to have avoided taking on the KKK to expose its wicked acts or its members’ ignorant beliefs in any substantive way. Though there are several dramas which incorporate it – or at least Klan-like organizations – peripherally, classic films that feature any real detail about its beginnings, longevity, charters, or even insight into its leaders and/or their motivations etc. are surprisingly absent. Maybe the studios felt that real evil and its practitioners were being adequately portrayed in their gangster and war pictures, or perhaps there were fears that a movie about the Klan wouldn’t make good at the box office (particularly in the South)?
The Warner Bros.’s Storm Warning (1951) wasn’t very specific about the KKK’s prejudices, though much of the film’s dialogue (from prosecutor Ronald Reagan and the miscast Ginger Rogers character) does deliver the requisite indictment of the organization and its members: too scared to act without the courage of numbers or show their faces (hence the hoods). But the twist is that the Grand Dragon’s real motivation for leading the clandestine group is financial – there’s real money for him in the dues and the paraphernalia he sells to its members – such that he comes off as a corrupt union boss, or worse a capitalist;-) In the end, the leader’s true self centered (versus “all for one”) nature is revealed and the enraged and disillusioned group wises up and runs for cover from the law. Warner’s Black Legion (1937), starring Humphrey Bogart and featuring a plot plausible enough to earn Robert Lord his second Best Writing-Original Story AA nom, did a better job of exploring the roots of hatred and xenophobia that can seduce one to join such an organization. Since I wrote about MGM’s Stars in My Crown (1950) in my earlier Films about Faith essay, I’ll not include any more text about it here other than to mention that actor Ed Begley (Sr.) seemed to have excelled in portraying angry racist characters. The WB’s (and producer-director Mervyn LeRoy’s) overlong drama The FBI Story (1959), a veritable paean to the organization’s squeaky clean agents and the stout leadership of J. Edgar Hoover, warrants barely a mention except that one of its storylines includes the infiltration of the KKK by the film’s principal character, played by James Stewart.
Which brings me to The Mating Call (1928), produced by Howard Hughes and including titles written by future Oscar winner Herman J. Mankiewicz. The Klan-like organization in this one is named “The Order” and its purpose is to enforce a morality code within its community: black hooded individuals tie a wife beater to a cross and whip him for abusing his spouse. But the primary sin herein is adultery. Upon returning home a hero after serving his country during World War I, Leslie Hatton (Thomas Meighan) finds that his wartime marriage to Rose (Evelyn Brent, playing a sexually aggressive man-eater) was annulled by her parents. But even though he’s (somehow) not interested in having an affair with his former bride, Hatton’s accused of fooling around with Rose by her current husband Lon, a hypocrite that’s having extramarital relations of his own (with a judge’s daughter, no less). Lon uses The Order to threaten the war hero to leave his wife alone. Hatton’s solution to avoid future visits and further scrutiny from these local self-appointed moral authorities includes his going to Ellis Island and marrying a French girl (Renee Adoree, The Big Parade (1925)) whose parents want to immigrate to the United States. However, a subsequent scandal affecting the aforementioned characters (and others) leads The Order to become involved in Hatton’s life again.
Some other dramas that feature the KKK or like-minded groups are: Legion of Terror (1936), The Burning Cross (1947), Another Part of the Forest (1948), The Klansman (1974), Places in the Heart (1984), which earned writer (director) Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)) his third Oscar, and Mississippi Burning (1988); plus, it’s hard to forget the hilarious scene in Mel Brooks’ western spoof Blazing Saddles (1974) in which Cleavon Little (accompanied by Gene Wilder) dons a white rob and hood