The Klu Klux Klan's Popularity Today
As a young man, Forrest worked as a horse and cattle dealer in Mississippi.
Eventually, Forrest became a slave trader in Memphis, Tennessee, and built two grand plantations.
In 1861, the United States was torn in half as the South fought the North in the Civil War.
At the start of the war, Forrest enlisted as a private in the Confederate army.
He slowly gathered men and raised a battalion of cavalry, and was named a lieutenant colonel.
Forrest proved to be one of the most effective generals in the Confederate army during the Civil War.
After the war, Forrest settled back in Memphis.
Along with five other former Confederate army generals, Forrest organized a social organization, called the Ku Klux Klan, whose activities were directed against the Republican Reconstruction governments and their leaders, black and white.
In 1869, Forrest attempted to disband the organization when its members became increasingly violent.
The Ku Klux Klan continued its violence, even though President Ulysses S.
Grant proclaimed for all members of illegal organizations to disband and disarm in 1871.
Thousands of Klansmen were arrested and the remaining Klaverns gradually faded as the political and social subordination of blacks was reestablished. Although the Ku Klux Klan faded, it did not entirely go away.
In the late 1870’s, after the Yankee troops moved out of the South at the end of the Reconstruction period, the Ku Klux Klan started expanding.
The Klansmen wanted to reclaim local and state governments and reestablish white domination over blacks.
The Ku Klux Klan continued their violence and spread fear throughout the South. To prevent blacks from speaking to white women, using the same facilities as whites, voting, running for a political office, or even exercising their new political rights, the Ku Klux Klan went to extreme measures.
Burnings of crosses on hillsides, lynching, floggings, mutilations, kidnappings, threatening parades, and even burning their victims alive were all ways of defending white supremacy and the inviolability of womanhood.
Lynching was the Ku Klux Klan’s choice of death for blacks.
Between 1884 and 1900, over two thousand blacks were lynched.
Lynching sometimes went out of control and turned into wholesale riots.
1904, a mob of Klansmen kidnapped two black men, convicted of murder and sentenced to death, in Statesboro, Georgia.
The mob burned the men alive and then went on a rampage killing and beating other blacks and destroying property owned by blacks. During the 1920’s, the Ku Klux Klan’s membership declined because of exploitive leadership, internal conflict, and alleged Ku Klux Klan immorality and violence.
Their reputation was badly damaged.
In 1940, one year after the start of World War II, the Ku Klux Klan joined with the German American Bund, an organization financed partly by the Nazi government.
The Ku Klux Klan now added Jews to their hated list, among blacks and Republicans, and began to grow again. The Ku Klux Klan was most prolific during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
As the black population of the South was attempting to gain equality, the Ku Klux Klan flourished, committed many crimes, and got away with most.
On September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young black girls: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley.
Four members of the Ku Klux Klan were accused of the bombing, although none of them were officially charged until years later.
One man was convicted in 1977, while another was not convicted until 2001.
The bombing created attention, which helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1864, outlawing racial segregation.
In June of 1964, members of the Ku Klux Klan, near Philadelphia, Mississippi, murdered three members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a political organization formed in 1960 by black college students to overturn segregation.
Of the three killed, two were white, while the other was black.
The murderers were never caught.
On June 12, 1963, Medgar Evars, an American civil rights leader, was killed by a gunman in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Ku Klux Klan hated Evars because he held campaigns to register black voters and organized boycotts of firms that practiced discrimination.
Byron La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, was tried several times for the murder of Evars, but was not convicted until February of 1994.
He was sentenced to life in prison, although he was 74 years old at the time of his sentencing. Many more crimes were committed during this time period.
Attempts were made to destroy the Ku Klux Klan, but it kept on growing.
After the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950 and 1960’s, the Ku Klux Klan quieted after their defeat.
By the mid-1970’s, the Ku Klux Klan had gained respectability, and known leaders of the Ku Klux Klan ran for public office and gathered an overwhelming number of votes.
During the 1980’s, a Ku Klux Klan office was opened in Toronto, Canada, and a former “grand wizard” of the Ku Klux Klan was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. The Ku Klux Klan continues to grow today, although they do not commit as many acts of violence as they used to.
Their organization is legal in the United States, but if they commit an illegal act, they will be prosecuted.
Klan rallies and parades go on today in the South, bringing a lot of controversy with them.
They march down the streets of Southern cities, dressed in their costumes, and preaching their words, as angry people, both black and white, look on.
The Klan will continue to grow, whether we like it or not, I just hope we do not hear about them in the news anytime soon.