KKK History

History of the KKK

The Ku Klux Klan History

ku klux klan

First KKK illustration

Spanning more than a century of brotherhood, the Ku Klux Klan or KKK is an extremist organization in the United States of America established in 1866 by Confederate Civil War veterans Major James R. Crowe, Captain John C. Lester, Calvin Jones, Richard Reed, John D. Kennedy and Frank McCord.  The name originated from “kuklos”, a Greek word that means circle. Hence, the indirect translation of the name is “Circle of Brothers.” It has emerged as the first real terrorist group within the United States.

Informally known as the Klan, KKK was and still is a staunch advocate of white nationalism, racial segregation, white supremacy, anti-immigration and anti-communism in the United States. The latter was very evident during the 20th century.  

The Ku Klux Klan started as a group focusing their hate against African-Americans and the white Americans who stood up against slavery during the American Civil War. Over the years, their focus shifted towards Jews, Catholics, homosexuals and other immigrants.

With their ideology not far from that of the Neo-Nazis, KKK has expressed all of these negative sentiments through acts of terrorism over the years – lynch-mobbing, public demonstrations or rallies, leafleting, internet propaganda, mass mailing and other criminal activities and hate crimes. Members of the Klan had adopted several symbolic costumes (i.e. conical hats, masks and robes) to hide their identities during these public demonstrations and incite fear and terror to those who sees them. These activities are mostly funded by membership fees.

Almost at the brink of obscurity, the Ku Klux Klan sought to take advantage of the sudden influx of immigrants (mostly Hispanics) in 2000s. Using this reason, the Klan attempts to recruit members and attract the growing anxiety of many Americans.

Classified as a hate group throughout the years, the Ku Klux Klan has amassed the greatest number of members compared to other local and national extremist groups in the United States. They are affiliated with several international extremist organizations such as the National Socialist Movement, Aryan Nations and other Christian Identity groups.





ku klux klan 2

Illustration of the ku klux klan

It was during 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee that the first terrorist organization founded by veterans of the Confederate Army was born. Since it’s still in its foundling years, the first Klan has no real organizational structure above the local level yet. It started as a vigilante group, threatening and murdering African-American freedmen and white American who aids them throughout the South to restore white supremacy and white nationalism.

In 1870 and 1871, the United States federal government passed the Force Acts to prosecute the Klan crimes that has been rampant in that time as the movement spread its reach throughout the Southern states. The Force Acts suppressed Klan activities after its enforcement. However, in 1874 onwards, the White League and Red Shirts (newly organized groups) started another series of violence to stop African-American from voting and running for office. These acts in turn hail the resurgence of the segregationist white Democrats in the political arena by 1877 in all the Southern states in America.


The second Klan was founded in Georgia in 1915.


ku klux klan 1920's

ku klux klan parade

A better structured organization, the second Ku Klux Klan has claimed at least 15% of America’s population, which numbers to 4 to 5 million men by the mid-1920s. The Klan also branched out of the United States and established an operation in Saskatchewan, Canada by 1926-1928, subsequently attacking immigrants from Eastern Europe. 

Because of urbanization and the evident increase in immigration in the United States during that time, the Ku Klux Klan adopted a modern business-type system in recruiting members to their cause by exacting membership fees to be included in the organization and sought to suppress the growing number of non-whites settling in the country. They preached the “One Hundred Percent Americanism” nationwide. This propaganda appealed to white Protestants and antagonized the Catholic Church.

However, with its national scope and immense number of members, their numbers dwindled from millions to 30,000 by the 1930s and finally faded in the 1940s because of internal conflicts, criminal acts done by chapter leaders and external oppositions.




ku klux klan old

kkk flyer

A resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan was realized in the 1950s and 1960s as independent groups opposing the Civil Rights Movement and de-segregation became rampant especially in Alabama and Mississippi. These groups aligned themselves with Southern police departments and governor’s offices. Researchers claim that there are approximately 150 Klan chapters with 5,000 members nationwide during this time.

In Birmingham, Alabama, Klan members bomb houses, attacked African-Americans who wanted to improve their lives. There were a lot of bombings of houses then that the city’s nickname became “Bombingham.” Several members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of murder when they bombed the 16th Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing civil rights workers and children. When Birmingham Police Commissioner Bull Connor gave Klan members 15 minutes to attack Freedom Riders and activists before sending in the police, the federal government finally enforced effective intervention for the crimes.




ku klux klan today

ku klux klan today

The modern day Klan has branched out into several splinter cells or chapters called “klaverns” amounting to over a hundred were spread throughout the United States with the highest concentration on the Southern states. This structure makes it hard to be infiltrated – a safety precaution made after Jerry Thompson, a newspaper reporter that successfully infiltrated the KKK in 1979 reported that because of the FBI’s COINTELPRO project, the Klan leaders were at odds with each other. Accusations of being FBI informants flew around and a revelation that one of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Bill Wilkinson of the Invisible Empire, has been working for the FBI.

The current klaverns have substantially grown in numbers since the 2008 when U.S President Barak Obama wont the presidential elections. Being the first African-American president, the Klan has expanded its efforts to recruit member that will bring white supremacy back to the country.

Ex-Grand Wizard David Duke claimed that many Tea Party movements and activists urge him to run for the U.S. presidential elections in 2012, stating that he’s considering to enter the Republican Party. In a video he released, he strongly stated that he’ll stop all immigration in the U.S. and will not let any foreign policy dictate the country if he’s elected as president. He also said that he’s going to do everything he could to bring “the most honest campaign for president since the time of our Founding Fathers.” However, because of a guilty please for tax evasion in 2002, Duke was disqualified to run for office.