Ku Klux Klan

The Ku Klux Klan was a white supremacist movement initially founded in 1865 by former confederate soldiers or so-called redeemers. As a secret vigilante group, the Klan sought to restore white supremacy by threats and violence, including murder, predominately against African-Americans, but also white Republicans. In 1915, the Klan reemerged in response to a period of postwar social tensions, where industrialization in the North had attracted numerous waves of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe and the Great Migration of Southern blacks and whites. The second KKK preached racism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and antisemitism. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses, and carried out other violent activities, generally in the South. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization boasted a membership of 4–5 million men. The “Ku Klux Klan” name was used by many independent local groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. During this period, they often forged alliances with Southern police departments, as in Birmingham, Alabama; or with governor’s offices, as with George Wallace of Alabama. Several members of KKK groups were convicted of murder in the deaths of civil rights workers and children in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.


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