WHY They light The Cross
The Ku-Klux klan’s goals
Resistance against the KKK
At This English Project, we were asked to write about something that can be linked with a culture in any English speaking country. I heard a lot of great ideas and examples of issues to write about, and I had some problems coming up with an original, yet good assignment.
But after a while, I found out what to write about. One of the darker chapters in American history; The Racist Organization “The Knights Of The Ku-Klux Klan”. This underground organization has, for more than 100 years, spread fear amongst the black and other non-white and non-Christian communities, and has ,with no doubt, set its mark on the culture and way of life for so many minorities across the states. But I wanted to go deeper than just common facts, and this is my approach:
· When was the Ku-Klux Klan established, and by who?
· Why was it established?
· Typical symbols, and common marks…
· What are the KKK’s political and moralistic views?
· What is the KKK’s position today?
So, enjoy your reading as we look back in time to find out what made an evil organization like The Ku-Klux Klan get supporters and grow big, and what the answers to my research questions are…
In the aftermath of the American civil war, in the 1860’s , many Southern state farmers, former soldiers of the Confederate Army, and other people, had a problem dealing with the fact that the black man now was free from slavery and discrimination.
Racism had always been normal and socially accepted amongst Southern inhabitants, and slave trading was as usual as buying a horse or even a bag of sugar. Now everything was forced to be turned up-side-down.
With the new rules and change in the Southern way of life, many men and women joined forces to prevent Negroes from getting equal political and civil rights as the white man. At the time the Federal Government sent troops to the South to make sure people followed the new order, and freed their slaves, the Southern men and women started building up what they called an Invisible Empire.
The first confirmed Klan was organized in the small town Pulaski, Tennessee in 1866. It was under the lead of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first leader of the KKK.
Below: Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest
We don’t have many facts about Nathan Bedford Forrest, except that he was born July 13th, 1821, and dead on October 29th, 1872. History tells us that he was a Calvary leader for the South in the war, and according to sources, he hated cultures but the white-American culture, and couldn’t stand the fact that he lost the war. Today, the Ku-Klux Klan hails him as an apostle of the Invisible Empire and racist beliefs.
The Invisible Empire spread racist propaganda in the local press, on rallies and on posters on every corner in every small town in the area. Soon, units of the KKK was established almost everywhere in the state of Tennessee. And it only grew bigger, as the Grand Wizard tempted white citizens with ideas of a better world. A white world.
After a short while, the organization started using violence and even lynching as means to scare the black man, although that went against its ideology. They meant that violence was the method of approach for the uncivilized. But the Invisible Empire was soon combined with murder and so on, and they were feared all across the Southern states. The violence also resulted in members from upper classes bailing out from the “club”. They didn’t want to be connected with murder an tyranny.
The klan adopted the habit of nightly parades, and they often picked out colored families they terrorized all night, with torture and sometimes murder. In the 1870’s, the Klan grew big all over the South, and had several hundreds of thousand members.
At the same times, other similar groups grew big all across the South. Organizations like The Baldknobbers , the Palefaces and The Liberty League, terrorized Negroes and non-Christians the same way as the KKK, but Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forest’s leadership of the Invisible Empire was so good that the other groups joined the Klan. This made the KKK grow even bigger, and soon, racist Southerners brought fear to many homes.
The Name …
In 1867, the organization adopted the name the kyklos klan. kyklos is the latin word for circle, and the klan used it as a metaphor for brotherhood. Soon, their name evolved into the Ku-Klux Klan.
The KKK was still a underground organization, bound to secrecy, and dressing up in ghost-like disguises when they served the Klan. The purpose of the disguises had two functions:
· To scare the black man.
· So the members could keep their anonymity.
When they went on crusades to scare of blacks, they sometimes even dressed white robes on their horses. This gave the KKK a sort of “holy saint” kind of look. But they murdered and damaged, and even though they were hundreds of thousands for a period, the majority on most places were disgusted by their views and procedures.
Today, a lot of things have changed. They are no longer allowed to wear the masks and robes. Therefor, they have designed a police-like uniform which they wear on protests, tallies and demonstrations. The robes are for ceremonial use only. But still, some members are afraid of letting their identities be disclosed. Therefor, you might still see the traditional ghostlike robes.
Above: The new KKK uniform
In 1871, after only a few years of murdering and lynching, the U.S. government declared the KKK an illegal organization. This didn’t result in a peaceful time for the blacks, but with new organization and gangs, the same racists continued their seek for a white empire. Organizations as “The Knights Of The White Camelia” brought continued the same way the KKK did. But without the robes, and not so organized. Grand Wizard Forrest’s dream of a nationwide organization went up in smoke. Today, KKK members and sympathizers call the KKK history from May 16th, 1866 to 1871 as the first era. They nowadays hail Forrest as a prophet and holy man.
In 1915, under the lead of Col. William Simmons and 14 associates in Atlanta, Georgia, the Klan was reestablished.
In the 20’s and 30’s, the KKK was bigger than ever, and their white robes was all over the Southern States.
But then, as it is today, the Ku-Klux Klan didn’t just attack blacks. From then on, all but white-Christians were considered as people destroying the U.S.A., and they attacked Catholics, Jews, and sympathizers of “Internationalism” and “Darwinism”. As you can see, the Klan now had clear political views on how society should be, as well as a fascist policy. Minorities of all kinds faced once again the Knights Of The Ku-Klux Klan. This period is called the second era.
Since then, the Klan has always played a role as probably the biggest racial group in the U.S. The Klan are now in what they call the 5th era. Now, they cooperate with Nazi-organizations all over the Western world. But they are very few. In the forthcoming change of the millennium, the KKK will enter a 6th era.
Below: KKK picture from the early 1920’s
The Ku-Klux Klan is divided in many groups. But they all use the same symbols. All klan groups usually wear the “blood drop” symbol. It was popularized in the late 1920’s, and it represents the blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for the white Aryan race.
Another symbol that the klan uses is the “crosswheel”. This is the symbol the Knights use. The knights are a special group in the Ku-Klux Klan, and the symbols was first used in the 1960’s. The symbol is derived from the meaning of the klan name. In the crosswheel, we can see the Christian cross, the wheel of creativity, the circle of unity, motion, and also the ancient Aryan symbol for sun or light.
Above: Two versions of the “Crosswheel”, with the “blood drop” in the middle.
But there are also other symbols and procedures the klan uses that are well known all across the world. Let’s take their flag and the burning cross. Do we know why these are things they do and use, and is the burning cross a blasphemous action?
The flag the KKK use, is the old Southern state flag from the Civil War. But the colors the flag contains represents more than the normal Norwegian, or even American, know.
The red color symbolizes the purity of American womanhood and the sanctity of American homes.
The blue color is a patch symbolizing Americas unclouded, beautiful sky.
The white stars represents the brotherhood of the Southern states, and how they stand in an inseparable union.
Above: A mix of the U.S. flag and the Southern flag. Below: A traditional klansman in a blue robe. This man is one of the leaders, a wizard.
Why They Light The Cross…
Many of us this that the KKK is an anti-Christ organization since they light the cross. But in fact, we are very wrong. The Ku-Klux Klan claim that they light the cross in honor of Jesus Christ, not in hatred. They want to signify to the world that Jesus is the light of the world, and therefor they burn, or light as they want it said, the cross. But off course, the message are strictly for the white population. They claim that the colored in no way represents the ideal man God want us to be.
The Ku-Klux Klan’s Goals…
As many other organizations, the Ku-Klux Klan has a concrete plan of what their terrorizing and protesting is a message of. They have a political program, and though they aren’t a political program, but only considered issue oriented, they have clear views on how the KKK want things to be. This is a basic political program of the KKK, and the demands on the plan appear on almost every KKK program.
As you can see, they are very nationalistic and extremely racial. These views and demands are to most people considered insane. I’m no exception, luckily…
Resistance against the KKK…
It would be wrong claiming that the Ku-Klux Klan never meet resistance. Almost every person on the planet find racism and the Klan tragic and evil. Black organizations as NAACP(founded 1909) and the Black Panthers have often been in conflicts with the Klan, and this has caused murder on both sides. Today, it’s impossible for the Klan to hold rallies without having thrown eggs and worse on them. The Klan is getting smaller every day, and the only American state the Klan still goes strong, is in South-Carolina.
Since the 60’s, the Klan has been a minor threat to the black and minority community. This is mainly because the police and sheriff’s no longer cooperate with the Klan. Years ago, Klan members could have all charges erased, mostly because the police was KKK sympathizers. Since Martin Luther King jr.’s fight for equality in the 60’s, the black man is treated the same way as the others. The Klan has nothing to say. They’re main goal, to keep the colored people down and in white hands, was lost 30 years ago. Now, the KKK is mainly a Nazi group. Let’s hope the future will bring the KKK even further down than today. We have no room for their narrow thoughts.
Below: A falling star: Nathan Bedford Forrest
This project has been very interesting to work with. During the last weeks, I’ve found out how cruel the KKK’s past really is. I’ve heard stories, and seen pictures of the white robed people, but I never really knew what it’s all about.
Now I know a whole lot more. I found tons of information, but most of it was written by the Ku-Klux Klan itself. The things they write are off course pro-KKK, so it was kind of hard to separate fact from fiction. But combining KKK info with hard facts from books and encyclopedias resulted in, for me, a project I can be proud of. Even though I deeply hate the actions and views racists have, it has been interesting writing about a racial organization like the KKK. It’s an organizations with history and traditions, at least if you consider murdering and hate traditions.
It’s impossible to say, but as long as racism exists, there will be a Klan. The number of members are reducing, luckily, but they might have a new wave of popularity in the future. But then, they would definitely use other approaches to the people than they started out with. They have already lost that war. The questions I wanted to find answers to, turned out well answered, and I also found out tons of other information. Can’t say that didn’t work out well. So therefor, my project is done.
Ku-Klux Klan – En bog om Rasisme Kim Møller Hansen
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