Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, I saw the Ku Klux Klan as an all-too visible power in many of the places we went to organize voter registration and protest segregation.We knew what the Klan was, and often we had a pretty good idea of who its members were.Then, having grown to be a major force for the second time, the Klan again receded into the background.This time it never quite disappeared, but it never again commanded such widespread support.The bare facts about the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and its revival half a century later are baffling to most people today.Little more than a year after it was founded, the secret society thundered across the war-torn South, sabotaging Reconstruction governments and imposing a reign of terror and violence that lasted three or four years.Today, it seems incredible that an organization so violent, so opposed to the American principles of justice and equality, could twice in the nation’s history have held such power.
The answers do not lie on the surface of American history.Now, of course, I turn on my television set and see people in Klan robes or military uniforms again handing out hate literature on the town square. This report was produced by the Southern Poverty Law center’s Klanwatch Project.I read in my newspaper of crosses again burned in folks’ yards, and it seems as if we are back in the Sixties. The SPLC is a private, nonprofit, public interest organization located in Montgomery, Alabama.The historical essays in this magazine explain the roots of racism and prejudice which sustain the Ku Klux Klan.As a young civil rights activist working alongside John Lewis, Andrew Young, the late Dr.
It’s important to understand, however, that violent prejudice is not limited to the Ku Klux Klan or any other white supremacist organization.