Ku Klux Klan: A 20th Century Phenomenon

Topics: Ku Klux Klan, White supremacy, Grand Wizard Pages: 6 (1673 words) Published: October 8, 1999

"In world history, those who have helped to build the same culture are not necessarily of one race, and those of the same race have not all participated in one culture. In scientific language, culture is not a function of race" (Benedict). The sad fact is that many races are discriminated against. Discrimination is defined as the act of perceiving and making evident the distinctions between two different groups of people. There have been many groups that have been very discriminating, but the one that sticks out like a diamond in coal is the Ku Klux Klan.

The original Ku Klux Klan was formed, in April 1866, as a social organization for ex-confederates in Pulaski, Tennessee. This was during the time after the civil war, known as the Reconstruction period (Benet's). The name Ku Klux Klan came from the Greek word kuklos, meaning band or circle (Benet's). The Ku Klux Klan spread very rapidly through the south and soon got the nickname of the "Invisible Empire" (Ingalls). The Ku Klux Klan has been referred to by many different terms such as The Klan or KKK. In 1867, Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, an ex-confederate cavalry leader, and many other ex-confederates held a meeting and converted the social group to a group that opposed the Republican State government (Trelease). Nathaniel Bedford and many common group members, Klansmen, formed this group for three reasons. They wanted to keep white supremacy evident, make sure the black community didn't revolt, and make sure the black community stayed in "their place" (Trelease). The Klansmen were from every economic social class, but the leaders would usually be from the elite

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professional class (Trelease). The Klan was and still is present in both America and Canada (Ingalls).

The hierarchy of the KKK was set in the April 1867 meeting (Columbia). At this meeting, Nathaniel Bedford Forrest was made the Grand Wizard, which meant he was the leader of all of the clans (Columbia). A step lower than the Grand Wizard was the Grand Dragon (Columbia). A Grand Dragon and his Realm controlled each state (Columbia). The Realms were made up of eight Hydras, who acted as a staff to the Grand Dragon (Columbia). Below the Grand Dragon were the Grand Titans with their six Furies that controlled each county (Columbia). These rankings classified the duties of each one of the members.

The Ku Klux Klan used fear as a major proponent in their tactics to oppress the black community. Klansmen would disguise themselves in robes, hold silent parades, make midnight rides on horses, and speak with mysterious language and commands (Columbia). The KKK "…Dressed in flowing sheets, their faces covered with white masks, and with skulls at their saddle horns, posed as spirits of the confederate dead returned from the battlefields" (Columbia). To accelerate the fear in the eyes of the common people The Klan would hold lynchings and whippings (Columbia). The widespread fear allowed the KKK to gain political power even though they were veering away from their main idea of restricting the south from reconstruction.

By doing many of these activities the KKK very effectively managed to keep blacks away from the voting booths. Many Klansmen were elected into office because the black community could not vote. Even though the white supremacists were in office,

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they did not do as much as they would have hoped. Officials did not accomplish the idea of minimizing black power and increasing white supremacy.

The Ku Klux Klan power did diminish in 1870 and 1871, when congress passed the Force Bill (Columbia). This bill stated that one could not restrict another's right to vote, which the KKK was doing. Another attempt to try to stop the KKK was the KKK acts of 1870 and 1871. After the KKK was proven to be violent, these laws that were formally passed disbanding the KKK in 1871 (Benet's). Even though these bills and acts were passed, the...

Cited: "Blacks Face Off With Klan Marchers in Jasper, TX." Jet 13 July, 1998: 14-16.
"Hatred Turns Out Not To Be Color-Blind." The Week Society Multimedia Almanac. Minneapolis, The Learning Company, 1998 CD-ROM.
Ingalls, Robert P. "Ku Klux Klan." World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia.
World Book, Inc., 1996.
New York: Harper Collins Pub., 1991. 574.
"Ku Klux Klan." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 5th ed. Philadelphia:
Columbia University Press, 1993
"The KKK." Times Magazine Multimedia Almanac. Minneapolis,
The Learning Company, 1998 CD-ROM.
Trelease, Allen W. "Ku Klux Klan." The Reader 's Companion to American History, 1991 ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1991. 625.
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