The Conflict And Compromise Of The Reign Of The Ku Klux Klan
The Civil War was a time of pain and suffering, brother fighting brother, and slaves fighting for freedom. This time also changed a lot of things in America, like racial integration. After the Civil War, a conflict arose surrounding race and religion. A group, called the Ku Klux Klan (KKK for short), had many awful beliefs, did many violent things, and was one of the strongest forces, both political and racial, in the United States.
Many people knew of the KKK, yet still compromised their safety and often their lives to stand up for their rights and liberties. Although this unmovable force eventually disbanded, it never truly disappeared from American culture, and even today, there are beliefs similar to the KKK. Founded in 1866, the early years of the KKK were some of the most important. The founders were six Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee; John Lester, Calvin Jones, Richard Reed, James Crowe, Frank McCord, and John Kennedy. All six men were Democrats, and they shared the frustration of having freeing the slaves. Their ultimate objective? Racial control. They wanted to make sure the black were put in their places, which was under the control of a white man. It was John Lester who suggested that they start a club, by telling the others, “Boys, let us get up a club or society. ” So, the six men started meeting at night. They are believed to have discussed racial tension in the South or politics. It was after they started meeting that they created the name Ku Klux Klan. Although the club’s activities were important in America history, it might not have had the effect that was intended if the name was different. Also known as the Invisible Empire of the South, the first branch of the KKK was responsible for the name.
Calvin Jones and Richard Reed were responsible for choosing the name, and they started with the name Kuklos, the Greek word for ‘circle’. James Crowe suggested adapting the name to sound like Kuklos, but be pronounced like Ku Klux. Another person suggested adding the “Klan” on the end, klan also meaning circle. The name was also influenced by a college fraternity, Kuklos Adelphon, which was disbanded during the Civil War. There were also many other branches of the KKK, all of which had different names. There was the American Knights of the KKK, the Christian Knights of the KKK, the United Klans of America, the Southern White Klans, the Texas White Knights of the KKK, and the New York White Knights. The White Knights was the most dominant and the most violent branch/group in the Klan.
Although the Klansmen called themselves “White Protestant Christians”, their actions said otherwise. They used threats, violence, lynchings, and attacks to “establish and maintain white supremacy. ” Blacks were their original targets, the range grew to include Jews, Catholics, socialists, communists, Native Americans, Asians, homosexuals, and immigrants. They actively opposed civil rights and liberties for blacks, Jews, Catholics, and LGBT communities. Klansmen were the people that believed that whites were superior, so they were violent towards anyone who belonged identified as one of those categories. Klansmen believed that racial equality as well as racial integration “destroy the white race. ” A lot of their activities were based on slave patrols, which were groups that would chase down runaway slaves and return them to their masters. Klansmen would patrol country roads and beat the blacks that left their cabins at night. Because of this, it became dangerous for blacks to sleep near windows, since they would break if there was an attack. It became common for blacks to have the Klansmen break into their homes and pretend that they were Confederate ghosts, back from the dead to haunt them. Since the Klansmen were faking being ghosts, they needed to fake supernatural powers. People who practiced voodoo may have believed that they were ghosts seeking revenge, but others didn’t. If the blacks didn’t believe that they had powers, it would often escalate to beatings, shootings, or lynchings. To fake the powers, the Klansmen would do many things.
To pretend they were headless, they would hold a fake head in their arms while wearing something over their actual head. They would hide collapsible bags under their cloaks so they could fake drinking buckets of water. They would pretend to have disconnected arms by hiding a skeleton arm under their cloak and take it out with their other hand, pretending to have taken their actual arm off. They would pretend to be giants by standing on stilts or wearing tall hats. If the people didn’t believe, it would have been bad news for them. The Ku Klux Klan was actively violent from 1867 onward, gathering more participants as well as victims. Their attacks were most commonly carried out at night, using the darkness as their friend. Their main targets were black churches, schools, homes, people, and supporters of the civil rights movement. The six founders grew up while it was normal, legal, and socially acceptable to beat blacks if they misbehaved. They would kill black people like it was nothing, even if these people were politically important. They often didn’t agree with the people that were trying to help black lives improve, so that led to a lot of conflict among politicians.
The Freedmen’s Bureau was one of the things that Klansmen didn’t agree with. It was established in the last days of the war to help former slaves and other people in the war-torn South. It was a one year program the government designed to provide food, medical care, and education of any race. After the one year was up, the government voted on whether to extend it or not, and it was extended for three more years. It provided more money for schools and hospitals and defended the freed people’s rights. This angered many Democrats; they wanted the federal government to stay out of state and local affairs. The people it angered most were the members of the KKK, since they were against the Civil Rights movement. The people in the KKK were widely spread when it comes to classes. The memberships crossed many class lines, and there were many people from all classes. In the lower class, there were farmers, laborers, merchants, and other people.
In the higher class, there were lawyers, ministers, physicians, as well as others. The local law enforcement was either part of the Klan or didn’t take action against them. All members had to go through initiation, which was one of the parts that the Klan kept most secret. Most of the initiates were former Confederate veterans, at least at first. The initiate would be blindfolded and taken to a different location. At the new location, the members would be dressed in their robes and masks, so that the initiate could not recognize them. The members would prank the initiate, trying to embarass him/her. One person remembers that during their initiation, he was blindfolded, wearing donkey ears, and he had to recite a poem that another member told him to recite. The Ku Klux Klan had significant political strength in the late nineteenth century, the 1920’s, and the 1950’s to the 1960’s. Many of their party members were either politicians of largely supported politicians. They were active in electoral politics and provided support for both Republican and Democrat candidates. One Klansman, David Duke, who was a former leader in the Klan, ran for office in the 1980’s and the 1990’s. They also created their own political party, the Knights Party. The Knights Party refer to themselves as “America’s Largest, Oldest, and Most Professional White Rights Organization (Infobase). ” Since the Klan was one of the biggest opposers of racial integration, they often killed or injured black politicians or white politicians that supported blacks.
The Klan killed at least seven black legislators, and many more people. Some of the murders that the Ku Klux Klan carried out were innocent people that just wanted their rights, or even people that just wanted the people around them to be treated the same way as they were. As an investigative journalist by the name of William Bradford said, “It was a planned, deliberate murder to try to prevent racial change; and it was committed by men who called themselves Christians and thought they were doing right. ” It was worse for the people in Mississippi, as the quote from Myrlie Evers says. Blacks were victimized in Mississippi more than they were anywhere else in the world. There are many people that were killed in Mississippi, but the following are the most common. Medgar Evers, Jackson, Mississippi; assassinated on his own front lawn on June 11, 1963. Reverend George W. Lee, Belzoni, Mississippi; shot at several times while driving on May seventh, 1955. Lamar Smith, Brookhaven, Mississippi; shot on the lawn of a courthouse on August 13, 1955. The murders weren’t limited to Mississippi, and not all the victims died. In the January of 1875 in North Carolina, five hundred hooded men attacked Union Jail and killed eight of the black prisoners. Roosevelt “Bud” Cole was beaten after a church meeting in Longdale, Mississippi, on June 16, 1964. There were also many other victims, and not all of the people attacked told someone. This “club” was one of the most secretive, from the face masks to the initiation. Indeed, the first masks were white sheets with eye holes cut out so they could see. There were many roles in the Klan, and people could climb to the top as others started to trust them.
Positions often had weird names, such as the Grand Cyclops or a Night Hawk. The Grand cyclops was the president, the Grand Magi was the vice president, the Grand Turk was the master of ceremonies, Night Hawks were messengers, and Lictors were the den guards. A person by the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest was the first Grand Wizard, which was like the leader of the state. To spread the word of meetings, there would be notices in newspapers, like the Pulaski Citizen. The following is an example that had been in the Pulaski Citizen at some time. “Take notice. –the Ku Klux Klan will assemble at their usual rendezvous, ‘The Den,’ on Tuesday night next, exactly at the hour of midnight, in costume and bearing the arms of the Klan. By or of the Grand Cyclops, G. T. ” People who were part of the Klan would understand where to go, but people who weren’t part of the Klan would be confused. They didn’t know who wrote those messages of what they meant. The Ku Klux Klan was a club of confusion and mystery, and especially mystery. The Ku Klux Klan was one of the most racist terrorist group in America. Since the group was established, there was a lot of change in America.
One of the changes was the fight for racial equality. Since the Klan actively opposed civil rights, the fight for racial equality became more persistent. People felt the need to fight against them to create one of the biggest changes in American history. That change was racial integration, which is also arguably one of the most important changes in American history. Since learning about the Ku Klux Klan, I was very grateful that I live in modern America, since I believe that everybody should have equal rights despite their race, religion, gender, or sexuality. I am grateful that I have the rights and freedoms that I have today, being able to express my thoughts and feelings on certain subjects or topics. I am so very grateful that I grew up without the threat of our house being raided by terrorists, thankful that I am able to get the same education as my brother and sisters, happy that I can be friends with who I want to be friends with. People need to learn about history to learn what they shouldn’t repeat, and things like the KKK and the Nazis are groups that are dangerous to Americans and the world.
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