The KKK (Ku Klux Klan) | Declassified

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Hello, I’m Robin and this week we’ll be examining notorious white supremacist group, the KKK We’ll look at their origins in the aftermath of the American Civil War, their storied history of extreme violence and what influence, if any, they hold today

This is the Ku Klux Klan Declassified Contrary to popular belief, the Klan has never been one continuous national movement In fact, there have been three distinct periods of Klan activity The first iteration of the KKK was formed in Pulaski, Tennessee sometime in 1865 or 66 They were just one of dozens of bands of Confederate veterans reportedly robbing, pillaging and victimising freed slaves, who wanted nothing more than to settle down in peace

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But they also attacked Northerners who they believed moved South to plunder the exhausted states Their name came from the Greek word for circle, Kyklos, combined with clan They wore hoods to hide their identity, and to look intimidating Clan ‘chapters’ spread throughout Tennessee until 1867, when various representatives assembled in Nashville to organise into one central movement Amongst these early members were former Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest

Forrest swiftly rose to become the Grand Wizard, the Klan’s ultimate leader He claimed they had 550,000 members, with 40,000 ready to take up arms at a moment's notice Their main aim was to deny power to the political party of Abraham Lincoln; the Republicans For instance, in 1868 St Landry Parish in Louisiana had a Republican majority of 1,071

Yet after the KKK killed or injured more than 2,000 people, not one vote was counted in the Republicans’ favor The Klan’s atrocities grew so bad, that in 1870 it was officially labelled a terrorist organisation The 1871 Civil Rights Act allowed for thousands of troops to be stationed in areas of high Klan activity, in order to protect African-Americans Public opinion was so against them, Forrest himself called for the Klan to disband The second Ku Klux Klan was inspired by D

W Griffiths’ film The Birth Of A Nation It greatly romanticized the activity of the first Klan, portraying them as heroes On November 25th 1915, 16 men re-established the Klan It was here they first used the burning cross, despite it being a fictional invention from the novels that inspired The Birth Of A Nation

Its stated aims were to “shield the sanctity of the home and the chastity of womanhood; to maintain white supremacyand to conserve, protect and maintaina pure Americanism"" The First World War changed American society, and the perception that American moral values were declining created great public sympathy for the Klan’s goals It grew to over four million members As with the first Klan, they were mainly Democrats based in the South and Mid-West

But religion became far more influential, and while no religious group officially associated with the KKK, its anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic agenda appealed to certain Protestants Yet much like the first Klan, stories of brutal attacks on Jews and African-Americans turned public opinion against them In 1925, Grand Dragon DC Stephenson was convicted of rape and murder

It practically destroyed the KKK’s image as a group upholding law and moral order Moderate members left, leaving the group in the hands of more violent individuals During the Fifties and Sixties, the Civil Rights movement took root in Alabama This boosted KKK membership, but also changed it into a more extreme right-wing force It was almost uniformly against the civil rights movement, and responded with extreme violence

African-Americans and civil rights activists endured bombings, shootings and lynching on a regular basis Often people with authority, like Birmingham police commissioner Bull Connor, were sympathetic to the KKK and allowed attacks on civil rights rallies The judicial system was so firmly rigged in favour of the KKK that many of those Klansmen who were responsible for murder in the Fifties were only tried and convicted as recently as 2007 Public outrage contributed to the drafting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 After this, social changes pushed the group further and further to the margins of society

The FBI launched a counterintelligence program against the KKK, which turned rival chapters against each other Weakened chapters were then hit with financially crippling lawsuits Today’s Klan has closer ties to the Republicans than Democrats, but has no central operation Instead it is a loose federation of chapters that are more like hate-driven social clubs than the moralising movement of the Twenties Its failure to adapt to the Internet Age might also explain why KKK numbers have dwindled

More outspoken and aggressive movements like the neo-Nazi website Stormfront attract more support The Ku Klux Klan has had several iterations through its near century-and-a-half of existence Yet it has almost always revolved around using intimidation and violence to enforce social agenda Hate groups as a whole have seen a recent revival on both sides 2016 is no stranger to violence marked by racial and nationalistic overtones

So while the Klan is considered less of a threat today than it was sixty years ago, its methods and motives are sadly still with us So that was the KKK Declassified, and I’m afraid to say I barely scratched the surface of the atrocities they committed So please go and look further into the subject In the meantime, click right here to check out our friends over at Alltime Gaming, who did a great job digging deep into the 6 most Bizarre gaming conspiracies Check it out, enjoy it

And see you next time

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