Now that the KKK Grand Dragon has publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton, maybe it’s time you learned something about the ultimate racist organization?
The KKK began in Tennessee after Southern Democrats lost the Civil War.. The white hoods and sheets were meant to represent the ghosts of the Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. But soon, the group was more about terrorizing blacks than it was about protecting whites. The KKK rode at night, perpetrating raids on areas where blacks lived. Nathan Bedford Forrest, former Confederate general, was in command of the KKK until 1868. He formally disbanded the group at this point, appalled by the violence but the KKK lived on.
Congress created a committee in 1871 to investigate the Klan, and passed the civil rights act of 1871 to help curtail the group’s activities. But years later, the KKK would infiltrate the highest levels of government when President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Hugo L. Black to the Supreme Court. Justice Black, a trial attorney from Alabama who joined the group in 1923, was appointed to the Court in 1937 and there is no evidence that he ever left the KKK. Black had been elected U.S. Senator from Alabama in 1927 and was Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
The KKK continued to operate throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and times were volatile for many African-Americans. Harry S. Truman was President from 1945 to 1953. Truman was a KKK member for about two years, but fell out with the group because he believed Roman Catholics should be allowed to be in politics.
West Virginia Democrat Senator Robert Byrd joined the KKK in the 1940s at the age of 24. He served in the Senate for nearly six decades. Senator Byrd was a recruiter for the Klan while in his 20s and 30s, rising to the title of Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops of his local chapter. Byrd spoke in favor of the Klan during his early political career. Though he claimed to have left the organization in 1943, Byrd wrote a letter in 1946 to the group’s Imperial Wizard stating “The Klan is needed today as never before, and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.” Byrd attempted to explain or defend his former membership in the Klan in his 1958 U.S. Senate campaign when he was 41 years old.
Despite being the only Senator to vote against both African American U.S. Supreme Court nominees: liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas and filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Byrd later said joining the Klan was his “greatest mistake.” The NAACP gave him a 100% rating on their issues during the 108th Congress. However, in a 2001 incident Byrd repeatedly used the phrase “white niggers” on a national television broadcast.
The KKK experienced a brief resurgence in the 1960s, and violently opposed the Civil Rights movement. The KKK was directly responsible for the murder of several civil rights workers and attacks on activists at this time. But the glory days were over. The KKK would get weaker and weaker after this.
The KKK fractured into small splinter groups and had a membership of less than 10,000 by the 1990s. The KKK has weathered several lawsuits and arrests, not to mention laws and ordinances that prevent them from engaging in their various activities.
In a bizarre re-branding, one KKK chapter announced recently that it is accepting homosexuals, African-Americans, and Jewish people into the group. The Klan currently has between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide.
Democrat Senator Theodore G. Bilbo from Mississippi revealed his membership in the Ku Klux Klan in an interview on the radio program Meet the Press. He said, “No man can leave the Klan. He takes an oath not to do that. Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux.”
Former Grand Wizard David Duke is a politician who ran in both Democrat and Republican presidential primaries. He was founder and Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the mid-1970s; he re-titled his position as “National Director” and said that the KKK needed to “get out of the cow pasture and into hotel meeting rooms.” He left the organization in 1980. He ran for president in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries. In 1989 Duke switched political parties from Democrat to Republican. When will voters realize that power is the objective of many politicians? They will join any party if they think it will help get them elected!
Benjamin Franklin Stapleton, a Democrat, was mayor of Denver for 20 years. He was a Klan member and appointed fellow Klansmen to most positions in municipal government. The Ku Klux Klan had no presence in Colorado in 1920. By 1925, Klan members and sponsored candidates controlled the Colorado State House and Senate, the office of Secretary of State, a state Supreme Court judgeship, seven benches on Denver District Court and city councils in some Colorado towns. Governor Clarence Morley of Colorado were also Klansmen. The Klan was stronger in Colorado than any other state. How did the Klan gain power so quickly and absolutely?
William Joseph Simmons of Georgia called for the resurrection of the Klan in 1915. By 1920, only 5,000 or so members had joined in Alabama and Georgia. Clearly, the old organizing prejudices weren’t enough to mobilize a respectable membership. The Klan developed a new recruiting message focused more on the menace that Catholics and Jews posed to the “nation’s Protestant ideals” than on Blacks. According to the excellent history Hooded Empire: The Ku Klux Klan in Colorado by Robert Goldberg, the KKK posed as saviors of “Old Time Religion” and Americanism. As adherents to the Pope and their “polytheistic” religion of saints, Catholics were seen as completely excluded from such Americanism. Colorado was predominantly Protestant, and this message played well there.
While Catholics, Jews and Blacks spoke out against the Klan in newspapers such as the Denver Express, Denver’s major papers were silent or neutral. The Klan infiltrated both political parties. Local Klan chapters preyed on local prejudices and divisions. Business owners proudly displayed Klan stickers, and protestant elites and working people, men and women, were quick to join. Barring a few exceptions, such as Denver District Attorney Philip Van Cise, a fierce Klan opponent, few politicians or Protestants spoke out against the Klan, allowing them to consolidate influence and power rapidly.
Strangely, part of the Klan’s appeal was that it functioned as a social outing for many Protestants. In fact, members in Grand Junction flocked to the KKK not so much from prejudice, but because they thought of it as another Elk’s lodge, except with hoods and weird cross burning ceremonies out in the desert. Even Dalton Trumbo tried to join because it was the hot “thing to do.” In Denver, the Klan held picnics (one drew 100,000 people), auto races (a Catholic won. See photo), and had many other events. Of course, the old Klan sometimes reared its ugly head, driving Blacks from white neighborhoods. Beginning in 1925, the Klan’s power in Colorado waned. The Colorado Grand Dragon was investigated for tax evasion, and corruption scandals rocked Klan office holders. But for those few short years, the Klan ruled Colorado.
In conclusion, there is nothing positive I can say about the Klan. The reason Blacks suffered after the Civil War at the hands of the Democrats is because they secretly vowed to win back with the pen what they lost with the sword. Segregation, share cropping, lynchings, poll tax and fear kept Blacks subjugated for more than a hundred years. The Southern Manifesto was signed by 19 Senators and 82 Representatives, including the entire congressional delegations of the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia. Bill Clinton’s idol, J. William Fulbright included. The Manifesto was in opposition to racial integration in public places.
I wish I could say racism no longer exists in America but I cannot. Just 20 years ago I hired an Assistant and Top Aide who was working for the U.S. Department of Justice who happened to be a Black woman. An executive in my organization was overheard by some Black employees when he said, “McVay hires Blacks whether they’re qualified or not.” The woman he considered not qualified had a Master’s Degree and was working on a PhD. When I retired she was promoted to a much higher position in Washington, DC. Those remarks resulted in an investigation by an Air Force Flag Officer from Kentucky. I don’t call it an investigation, I call it a cover-up. Clearly, our government cannot have racism in the government itself, it would not look good on the front page of the Washington Post.
In my experience, those crying racism are KKK members or closet racists themselves. America is becoming the Land of Smoke and Mirrors because too many people know nothing about History and only know what Rachel Maddow or Scott Pelley tells them.