What Do Klansmen Chant When Burning A Cross

Cross Burning

Members of the Ku Klux Klan, dressed in white hoods and robes, stand guard over a burning crucifix in Tampa, Florida, in this photo taken on January 30, 1939. It has been argued in court that cross burning, which has been employed as a form of intimidation against African Americans and Jews, is protected under the First Amendment right to free expression. Photograph courtesy of The Associated Press and used with permission of the photographer.) It has been argued in court that cross burning, which has been employed as a form of intimidation against African Americans and Jews, is protected under the First Amendment right to free expression.

The present practice of cross burning may be traced back to the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the early twentieth century.

Popular film depicts Klan cross burning with a lynching

Members of the Ku Klux Klan, dressed in white hoods and robes, stand guard over a burning cross in Tampa, Florida, in this Jan. 30, 1939 photo taken in the city. It has been argued in the courts that cross burning, which has been used as a means of intimidation against African Americans and Jews, is protected by the First Amendment. Photograph courtesy of The Associated Press and used with permission. It has been argued in the courts that cross burning, which has been used as a means of intimidation against African Americans and Jews, is protected by the First Amendment.

The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the early twentieth century is intimately tied to the present practice of cross burning.

Cross burning used to terrorize racial minorities hated by Klan

Throughout the Klan’s expansion in both numbers and influence, cross burning emerged as a crucial rite of group bonding. Members of the Klan sung songs such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” and “The Old Rugged Cross” at meetings when they were clothed in hoods. Photo taken on Saturday, April 23, 2016 shows members of the Ku Klux Klan participating in cross burnings following a “white pride” gathering held in rural Paulding County, near Cedar Town, Georgia. Leaders of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) believe that American politics is moving in their direction in 2016, as a nationalist, us-against-them mindset spreads across the country.

The cross became the predominant, if not the only, method of intimidation when the Ku Klux Klan began to fade away in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Nixon, white supremacists desecrated crosses during the civil rights period, which began in the 1950s (who declined the support). In addition, persons with no ties to the Klan have set fire to crosses on the lawns of African Americans who have moved into predominantly white areas.

States begin to ban cross burnings, leading to Supreme Court cases

Since the 1950s, a number of states, including Virginia, have enacted legislation prohibiting the burning of crosses. Until the early 1990s, the validity of these statutes was not challenged in court, and it was only after a little more than a decade that the Court delivered two landmark decisions on the matter. A pair of recent Supreme Court judgments, Raava V St Paul (1992) and Virginia v Black(2003), examined the validity of laws prohibiting cross burnings and provided the Court with an opportunity to consider the practice’s place in American history.

  • Paul, Minnesota, JusticeAntonin Scalia ruled for a unanimous Court that it was unconstitutional because it targeted the display of symbols that inspired hatred based on “race, color, creed, religion or gender,” but did not take other characteristics into consideration.
  • In the case of Virginia v.
  • Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a wealth of historical context in her judgment for the Court in this case.
  • She relied on historical evidence to support her decision that a clause in Virginia statute was unconstitutional because it allowed a jury to infer intent to intimate purely from the act of burning a cross in a public place.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in dissent in the case, questioned O’Connor’s judgment that a cross may have expressive significance.
  • Following R.A.V., numerous state courts overturned cross-burning ordinances on the grounds that cross-burning is an expressive activity protected by the First Amendment, which was cited in the case.
  • The St.
  • His dissertation, published in 2004 as the book Holocaust Denial and the Law: A Comparative Study (Palgrave 2004), investigates Holocaust denial litigation.

He has also written on a variety of themes, including cross-burning in the United States, blasphemy legislation and the defamation of religions debate, as well as the use of law to prohibit claims about the past. Send us your thoughts on this topic.

Cross burning – Wikipedia

In 2005, members of the Ku Klux Klan participated in a cross-burning ceremony. Cross burning, also known as cross lighting, is a practice that is most commonly associated with the Ku Klux Klan today; however, it has been practiced for centuries prior to the founding of the Klan, and it is believed to have been initiated by Peter of Bruys (fl. 1117–c. 1131), who burned crosses in protest against the veneration of crosses. Since the early twentieth century, the Ku Klux Klan has burnt crosses on hillsides as a means of intimidating and threatening African-Americans and people of color in general.

Scottish origins

Thefiery cross, also known as theCrann Tara in Scotland, was used as a declaration of war during the First World War. As soon as they caught sight of it, all clan members rushed to join forces in order to defend the territory. Another custom was to carry a miniature burning cross from one village to the next throughout the country. This strategy was employed during the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States as a method of organizing the ScottishFencibles and militia who had been stationed in Glengarry County, Ontario, against the invading forces.

Scottish history records that the last important usage of the burning cross occurred in 1745, during the Jacobite uprising, and that it was afterwards recounted in Sir Walter Scott’s novels and poems, most notably in The Lady of the Lake, which was published in 1810.

Sign of the Ku Klux Klan

In 1921, members of the Ku Klux Klan participated in a cross-burning ceremony. Crosses were not burned by the Reconstruction Klan during the first phase. Thomas Dixon Jr., in his novel The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan, popularized the notion that reconstruction Klans burnt crosses during the American Revolution (1905). Book IV Chapter 2 “The Fiery Cross,” which appears on pages 324–326 of the 1905 version, is the first time a cross is mentioned as being burned. It is first mentioned by one of the characters as follows: “The ancient Scottish tradition of the burning cross is being practiced today.

This appeal was never uttered in vain, and it will not be made in vain again tonight in the new world, either.

Keller, captioned “‘The fiery cross of old Scotland’s hills,'” which depicts two robed, unmasked Klansmen, one of whom is holding a lighted cross, over a bound, blindfolded, and gagged black American, while robed and hooded Klansmen look on.

Keller, captione Finally, klansmen are seen waiting for election results, as stated in the novel “Take a look at our lights illuminating the mountains!

The Birth of a Nation

A cross-burning scene appears in two scenes of D.W. Griffith’s filmThe Birth of a Nation (1915), which is an adaptation of Thomas Dixon’s novel The Clansman and was directed by Griffith himself. It begins with a Confederate colonel’s young sister, who refuses a marriage proposal from a black captain (of the invading Union troops), prompting the captain to depart after chasing her (for background, thePiedmont, South Carolinalegislature had legalized interracial marriages, and the story imagines the social chaos that whites feared would develop).

  1. He continues his pursuit, and she leaps to her death.
  2. The few remaining members of the local clan set fire to a tiny (about 8-inch) crucifix that had been soaked in the little girl’s blood.
  3. The members of the KKK drape his body on the front porch of the South Carolina governor’s home with a square of white sheeting emblazoned with the initials of the organization.
  4. The governor’s residence becomes the site of the first home invasion.
  5. The governor attempts to interfere, but his efforts are unsuccessful, and he is captured and held hostage.
  6. In these hostage situations, the clan desires to act, but they are stopped from doing so by the invading Union forces.
  7. The thick black smoke generated by the burning cross tells clans from adjacent counties to come to their aid and challenge the Union military’s authority of the town.
  8. Despite the fact that they are riding into town with sheeting covering their faces, they greet each other with their faces exposed.
  9. The first cross burning in the United States happened on November 25, 1915, ten months after the release of the filmThe Birth of a Nation, when a group of men led by William J.
  10. There were 15 charter members in attendance, as well as a few elderly former members of the old Klan, at the ceremony.

According to Carey McWilliams, a writer and civil rights campaigner, numerous crosses were burnt in California during the 1930s as part of the intimidation tactics used by vigilante organizations formed by the Associated Farmers of America to break up pickers’ strikes.

In France

Croix-de-Feu (French: Cross of Fire) was a nationalist French league active during the Second World War.

Legal position in the United States

A nationalistFrenchleague during the Interwar period, Croix-de-Feu (French:,Cross of Fire) was founded.

See also

  1. After decades of clashes with the Ku Klux Klan, a thriving Vietnamese community in Texas has emerged, according to “Virginia v Black.” NPR.org
  2. Letters from Rupert’s Land, 1826–1840: James Hargrave of the Hudson’s Bay
  3. The Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada: Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
  4. “Archived copy.” The original version of this article was published on January 13, 2008. Retrieved2008-02-27. CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. The Capital Scot
  6. CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. Dixon, Thomas, was born in 1864 and died in 1946. Illustrations by Arthur I. Keller The clansman is a historical romance about the Ku Klux Klan set in the 1930s. New York Doubleday, pages 324-327
  8. Dixon, page 374
  9. New York Doubleday, pages 324-327
  10. Dixon, Thomas, was born in 1864 and died in 1946. The Traitor is a narrative about the collapse of the Invisible Empire, and it is set in the nineteenth century. The Doubleday, Page Company, New York, 1907, page 53
  11. Dixon’s unnumbered plate between pages 52 and 53 of his book “The Various Shady Lives of the Ku Klux Klan” was published in 1907. Time magazine published an article on April 9, 1965. The original version of this article was published on August 19, 2008. In 1915, an itinerant Methodist preacher by the name of William Joseph Simmons re-established the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta. Simmons, a stoic-looking man, had a passion for fraternal organizations and was a member of several of them. His position as “colonel” in the Woodmen of the World had already been established when he made the decision to form his own organization. On Thanksgiving Eve 1915, Simmons took 15 friends to the top of Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, where he built an altar on which he placed an American flag and an unsheathed sword, set fire to a crude wooden cross, and muttered a few incantations about a “practical fraternity among men.” He was an effective speaker with a penchant for alliteration
  12. He had preached on topics such as “Women, Weddings and Wives,” “Red The original version of this article was published on January 28, 2015. Retrieved2015-06-05. CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), retrieved on 6/4/2025
  13. CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), retrieved on 6/4/2025
  14. The book Factories in the Field, The Story of Migratory Farm Labor in California, by Carey McWilliams (author) and Douglas C. Sackman (foreword) was published in April 2000 by the University of California Press under the ISBN 9780520224131 and has a page count of 230-263. Erwin Chemerinsky is a writer and director. The First Amendment, published by Wolters Kluwer Law International
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The Klan, White Christianity, and the Past and Present

Kelly Baker reminds us that the second Klan drew heavily from the well of white Protestantism and nationalism, which is a good thing to remember. In the 1920s, the organization’s virulent religious prejudice and xenophobia drew the attention of millions of people in the United States. It was during this period of social experimentation, proscription, a new morality, nationalist sentiment, and radical social upheaval that the birth of America’s most renowned domestic kind of fascism took place.

As Baker points out, “the preservation of white supremacy becomes more visible when looking at the objects that white supremacists, such as the Ku Klux Klan, manufacture and utilize.” These individuals’ preferred emblems included the American flag, the hood and robe, and the burning cross.

As Baker points out, “Under the Star-Spangled Banner, Americans may claim togetherness,” but “the Klan’s unity was tightly confined to those people they believed qualified as really American—only white Protestants.” It seemed to demonstrate how rapidly American jingoism may morph into racial hate and bloodshed, as it has and continues to do.

  • But this is a mistake.
  • The historian Kenneth T.
  • urban, religious vs.
  • dry—obscured as much as they revealed about the movement’s origins and development.

“Religion continues to be a significant element of the Klan,” says Baker, “despite the fact that many would prefer to pretend that it is not.” After the conclusion of the famous filmBirth of a Nation (1915), which was credited for inspiring the second Klan, there was a scene showing Christ in Anglo-Saxon paradise, surrounded by white, radiant light.

Nonetheless, violence, according to logic, is something linked with religions other than Christianity.

According to a 2017 report by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), “50 percent of Americans in general believe that violence in the name of Islam does not represent Islam—and 75 percent believe the same about Christianity.” The report also found that “violence in the name of Islam does not represent Christianity.” At work, there is an obvious application of the double standard.

  1. These popular assumptions prevent Americans from confronting the reality of domestic religious extremism that is both violent and virulent in nature.
  2. The Library of Congress Although it was difficult to fathom, there were striking similarities and clear linkages between religion and the Klan.
  3. Klansmen, on the other hand, tended to regard the revivalist as a kindred soul.
  4. Additionally, other traveling preachers such as Bob Jones, Alma White, Clementa Pinckney, Charlie Taylor, and Raymond T.
  5. Billy Sunday’s strong prohibitionism, biblical literalism, and nativism made him particularly appealing to Klan members, who admired him for these qualities.
  6. “Down in West Virginia the other day,” a newspaper editor said, “the Ku Klux Klan slipped Billy Sunday a $200 bill.” That, together with Sunday’s approval, ought to put the K.K.K.
  7. Between 1922 and 1925, the revivalist would collect additional gifts from the Klan that were far bigger than the norm during revivals in Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  8. “I find the preachers of the Protestant faith almost solidly in support of the Klan and its ideals, with the exception of the occasional minister…
  9. 5 The Bright Fiery Cross (1913) phonograph record cover |
  10. Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University, Box 151, Item 84 |

Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University, Box 151, Item 84 The KKK’s creeds, dogmas, and anthems frequently made the theological, even evangelical, linkages between the organization and its members fairly plain, even if some historians have denied direct connections between the two camps.

  1. George Bennard and Homer A.
  2. The latter, who was Billy Sunday’s business partner and a travelling music evangelist, would have gotten royalties from the updated version of the song.
  3. All guilt and reproach will be gladly bore, and fiend-ship will be revealed to every Klansman I know; it will be a day of glo-ry for all of us.
  4. Until I am finally relieved of my responsibilities; Then, on the day I am laid to rest, make a bright fiery cross above my head.
  5. Although the organization is numerically weak now, with a patchwork of loosely affiliated sections, its legacy of religious intolerance and ethnic hatred continue to exist in the present.
  6. (According to Baker, the omnipresent MAGA red caps represent a new manifestation of white nationalism.) White evangelicals supported President Barack Obama at a rate of 81 percent, despite the fact that he built his political career on lies, demagoguery, and violent speech.
  7. The president’s harsh and immoral policies are defended with remarkable ease by prominent members of the evangelical community.
  8. Graham, the evangelical top priest of the court, prayed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
  9. The result is that a whole trainload of villains passes muster with believers.
  10. The parallels between the present and the country’s troubled past are all too obvious.

Author of The Fire Spreads: Holiness and Pentecostalism in the American South (Harvard University Press, 2008); The Anointed: Evangelical Truth in a Secular Age (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011); and editor of Recent Themes in American Religious History (Harvard University Press, 2011); he holds a Ph.D.

His most recent book project is The Devil’s Music: Rock and Christianity Since the 1950s, which will be published in 2018.

Stephens has written for publications such as theAtlantic, Salon, Raw Story, theWilson Quarterly, Christian Century, theIndependent, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the New York Times, among other publications.

In 2012, he was a Fulbright Roving Scholar in American Studies in Norway, where he studied for a semester. Featured image: A group of Klansmen gathered in front of a burning cross for a religious ceremony | Library of Congress

Kelly: My night at a Klan cross burning

  • The Ku Klux Klan cross burning was going place that night, and I overheard two men discussing it as I was standing in the foyer of the community center at the time. It was in the state of Alabama’s northern region. The month of July 1978. I was a teenage reporter on a brief assignment. But when I learned about the Klan, I decided to stay. This was just what I needed to see. “Please excuse me,” I said to the two gentlemen. “Did you say anything about a Klan cross being burned?” says the interrogator. “Yes.” “Can you tell me where this is?” In Decatur, a little further down the road. A rural pasture near the racetrack,” says the author. So unexceptional. Let’s fast forward 39 years to the present day — this summer. Many people are talking about the so-called “alt-right” movement, about neo-Nazis who have established new social media “platforms,” about guys who interact daily with the president, and about the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan. But what exactly is this movement? Essentially, what I’m hearing – and fearing – is that we’ve normalized these organizations, as if their continuing evolution makes them an indispensible part of the American fabric, with members that include some “really good individuals,” as our president just acknowledged. For this reason, I keep reminding myself about the events that took place all those years ago in Alabama. At the time, I was a journalism fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities, residing in Atlanta and studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The fellowship was funded by the National Endowment for Humanities. When I was bored on weekends, I hopped in my car and drove across the southern United States. I passed through cities where Confederate monuments looked down on present day life with a smirk. When I was younger, I wanted to see the river where the movie “Deliverance” was filmed. I went to Jimmy Carter’s peanut field to see what it was like. I was taken aback by the pastoral tranquility of Civil War battlefields. I left on a Saturday morning for Alabama. Gov. George Wallace was scheduled to speak to a veterans organization in Huntsville, according to what I’ve heard. Wallace, the snarling segregationist, claimed to have softened his racism over the years. I was interested in seeing for myself. Then I learned about the Klan rally that was taking place just down the road in Decatur. That same year, Decatur, a river town with roughly 40,000 inhabitants – 80 percent of whom were white – found itself immersed in a racial issue that, in some ways, reminded me a lot of the narrative of Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Three white women were raped and robbed at the hands of a 25-year-old African-American man called Tommy Lee Hines, who had an estimated IQ of 39 and was widely considered as developmentally handicapped by many in Decatur. Hines was charged with the crimes against them. A number of civil rights organizations conducted protests on the streets of Decatur, claiming that Hines had been wrongfully accused with the crime. In response, the Klan arrived, bringing with them at least one national “Grand Wizard,” a “titan” from a local “klavern,” and a “exalted cyclops,” among other members. (Even now, when I think about the titles, I giggle.) The cross-burning was the Klan’s means of advertising its coming, similar to the Nazi torch march that took place in Charlottesville a few weeks earlier. Va.Fire has a unique ability to capture people’s attention. In Charlottesville, Christie claims that President Donald Trump was ‘wrong’ when he said that both sides shared guilt. Confederate: Keep Confederate monuments to remind people of the evils of slavery. What piqued my interest in Decatur was the fact that the Klan, which had previously been considered a covert organization known by the moniker “Invisible Empire,” had gone public – just as it would do four decades later on the streets of Charlottesville. I had no problem finding the farm outside of Decatur, which was a relief. There were a lot of individuals who were aware of the cross burning. I passed soybean and cotton farms on my way to work. I took a left onto a two-lane road that was bordered by woods. Then the tree line came to a halt, and there it was: a wooden cross in the middle of a meadow, perhaps 20 feet high and standing in the middle of nothing. I came to a complete stop and got out. In the middle of the day, a group of around a dozen guys – none of them wearing Klan robes – stood surrounding the cross that had been drenched in gasoline. After walking up to them and announcing that I was a journalist, I inquired, perhaps somewhat foolishly, if any of them were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Everyone smiled and nodded. When I arrived, the smell of gasoline permeated the air, and I spoke with the group for many hours. What I heard was a scenario that was all too common in 2017 – that of white individuals who believed their “culture” and “legacy” were being destroyed by what they saw to be an increased deference by government at all levels to the concerns of non-white people in the United States It was hard to imagine that 39 years later, in a rambling speech in Phoenix, President Donald Trump would use similar language to signal his opposition to proposals from across the country to remove statues of Confederate Civil War leaders from public squares and parks. But that’s exactly what happened. “They’re attempting to eradicate our cultural heritage.” “They are attempting to erase our past,” Trump said to a cheering crowd in Phoenix last week. Trump also stated that the media was to blame, saying that they were “trying to take away our history and our tradition” from the country. The Klansmen gathered in a field outside of Decatur that night, dressed in the white robes and hoods that have become iconic emblems of hate around the world. There were many hundred persons in attendance. The sound of vehicle engines rumbled from a nearby dirt racing track, and the continual buzzing of locusts filled the humid air, as one of the Klan’s commanders strode forward with a torch in hand. He stated that whites were superior to all other races. His torch was then lifted and touched the gasoline-soaked cross with it as he requested God’s blessing. The flames rushed up the wooden center post, then across the beams, and finally into the darkness of the night sky. No one raised their hands or applauded. There were no boos, either. “Evil,” was the only word that sprang to mind. It’s hard to think of a better way to describe people who blend so much hatred with their faux religion. Thirty minutes had elapsed since the beginning. The flames began to flicker and eventually extinguished. The residents of the town murmured softly among themselves before drifting back to their automobiles. I walked over to a Klansman who was leaning against a pick-up vehicle. He pulled removed his hood and introduced himself as Johnny, according to the witness. He was 25 years old and worked as a long-haul truck driver with the call sign “Johnny Reb.” A.44 Magnum handgun with a long barrel was carried by Johnny during the cross-burning, which was one of a dozen he said he had attended in recent months. The weapon was tucked into a cowboy-style holster that was worn on his belt beneath his Klan robe. I inquired as to Johnny’s motivation for joining the Klan. He brought up his high school years, which had been eight years ago. He said that there were too many white females dating black classmates, and that white people needed to re-establish their cultural norms. Does this sound familiar? What I find unusual about this summer of Trump’s verbal gaffes is that I keep hearing echoes of the racist speech that has long been heard in America from groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and other organizations who advocate for an ideology of Hitler-like white supremacy, such as the KKK. Only recently, I worry, have we normalized this type of language – and the reasoning that behind it – to the point that we believe it is a genuine part of the American scene. When Tommy Lee Hines was ultimately prosecuted for raping the white women, an all-white jury found him guilty — twice – on both counts. An Alabama appellate court declared Hines unable to face trial again after both convictions were overturned. Hines was finally institutionalized in a group home setting. After a few decades, he was finally reunited with his family. The Klan, on the other hand, did not dissipate. The Klansmen opened fire on civil rights marchers in downtown Decatur ten months after the cross-burning, while still dressed in their robes. Several marchers were wounded in the attack. The FBI was called in to assist. Following an investigation that lasted more than a decade, ten Ku Klux Klan members pled guilty to a variety of federal offenses related to their participation in the Decatur march and their civil rights. I was never able to establish whether Johnny was one of those convicted. That night in the Decatur farm field, on the other hand, is something I think about regularly. It was only afterwards that I realized that this incident from Decatur was part of a broader narrative that we had heard far too frequently during our nation’s battle for civil rights throughout history. Recent years, I had the impression that we had progressed beyond that sad, frightening tale, and that America was beginning to make some measure of peace with its racial demons. I was wrong. However, the demons have returned in 2017, bringing with them all of their claims of legitimacy and a desire to be heard. Who could have predicted that our president would succumb to those demons and take us back to the dark ages? [email protected] is her email address.
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Top 5 Questions About the KKK

Klansville, United States of America|Article

Top 5 Questions About the KKK

The American Way of Life The following questions were posed to David Cunningham, sociologist and Ku Klux Klan expert, who was requested to offer replies to the five questions he is most commonly asked about the Klan. Dr. Cunningham is the author ofKlansville, United States of America: The Rise and Fall of the Ku Klux Klan in the Civil Rights Era (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Professor and Chair of Sociology at Brandeis University. David Cunningham is a writer and musician from the United Kingdom.

The Ku Klux Klan was founded in Tennessee in 1866 by a small group of Confederate soldiers who came together to create a secret society.

Because the KKK is not a single organization, but rather a collection of factions united by the employment of now-iconic racial symbols such as white hoods, flowing sheets, and blazing crosses, as well as its penchant for vigilante violence, is part of what has made the organization so popular.

  • Following federal laws targeting Klan-perpetrated violence in the early 1870s, the original KKK iteration was essentially brought to a crashing end.
  • Following the demise of the second-wave Klan in the early 1940s, self-identified KKK groups grew in popularity throughout the 1960s, mostly in response to the growing Civil Rights Movement.
  • It is the subject of the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentaryKlansville, United States of America, which focuses on the KKK during the civil rights period and chronicles the tale ofBob Jones, who was the most effective Klan organizer since World War II.
  • By 1965, Jones’ “Carolina Klan” had amassed more than 10,000 members across the state, more than the entire rest of the South combined.
  • 1.
  • In a significant way, this may be the most essential issue we have concerning the KKK and whether we should continue to be concerned or care about the Klan today.
  • The most common response I receive is that there are more KKK organizations today than at any other time in the group’s lengthy history, but that virtually all of these organizations are small and marginal, and that they have little political or social power.
  • In the first instance, marginalized and isolated extremist cells can itself become breeding grounds for unanticipated acts of violent aggression.

Due to the fact that Jones’ followers were involved in hundreds of terrorist acts that were sanctioned by KKK leadership, his claim was obviously false, but it did contain a grain of truth: Jones and his fellow KKK leaders did attempt to dissuade members – many of whom combined rabid racism with unstable aggression – from engaging in violence that was not sanctioned by the organization’s leadership.

  1. Racist violence can be considerably more difficult to avoid or police in the absence of a larger organization with a lot to lose from a crackdown by the authorities.
  2. However, in each of these instances, a “reborn” form of the KKK has managed to revive and thrive once more.
  3. This, in my opinion, is one of the most important lessons to be learned from the KKK’s history, as well as a strong reason not to overlook or minimize the historical significance of the organization.
  4. Has the Ku Klux Klan had any long-term political ramifications?

However, despite the Klan’s political gains during the 1920s, when millions of its followers were successful in electing hundreds of KKK-backed politicians to local and state offices, as well as federal office, the organization was unable to maintain its political dominance beyond that decade.

  • Bob Jones’ Carolina Klan came the closest to achieving such power, with mainstream politicians currying favor with Jones and other Klan leaders (sometimes officially, but more frequently discreetly) at Klan rallies and other events between 1964 and 1968.
  • More broadly, the KKK’s dedication to white supremacy, which was most visibly manifested via Jim Crow-style segregation that lasted for decades in the South, has by any official measure diminished as a realistic prospect in the United States today.
  • Several recent analyses that I’ve conducted with my colleagues Rory McVeigh and Justin Farrell have revealed that counties where the KKK was active throughout the 1960s vary from counties where the Klan never acquired a foothold in two significant ways.
  • This disparity persists even 40 years after the Klan’s demise, and it cannot be explained by the fact that former Klansmen commit more crimes than non-Klansmen in general.
  • Vigilantism is a culture of defiance of existing authority that calls into question the legitimacy of established authorities and undermines the links that ordinarily help to promote respect and order among members of the society.
  • Second, the historical existence of the Klan contributes to the explanation of the most notable shift in regional voting trends after 1950: the South’s substantial movement toward the Republican Party.
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The Klan played a role in producing this effect by encouraging voters to turn away from Democratic candidates who were increasingly supportive of civil rights reforms, as well as by bringing racial conflicts to the forefront of public discourse and more clearly aligning those issues with party platforms.


While many of the Klan’s most infamous acts of deadly violence – such as the 1964 Freedom Summer killings, the 1965 murder of civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo, and the 1981 lynching of Michael Donald that resulted in a 1987 lawsuit that effectively put the United Klans of America out of business – occurred in the Deep South, the Klan was truly a national movement during the 1920s, with urban centers such as Detroit, Portland, Denver, and Indianapolis boasting tens of thousands of Even in the 1960s, when the KKK’s public persona appeared to be synonymous with Mississippi and Alabama, more dues-paying Klan members resided in North Carolina than in the rest of the South combined, according to the Southern Historical Society.

  1. Despite – or maybe because of – the state’s progressive reputation, KKK leaders found the Tar Heel State to be a fruitful recruiting ground.
  2. While this message resonated in rural regions across North Carolina’s eastern coastal plain, the KKK also gained a large support in urban places such as Greensboro and Raleigh.
  3. As a result, while the KKK began as a particularly southern endeavor to preserve the antebellum racial order following the Civil War, its influence has spread well beyond the southern United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
  4. What is the purpose of KKK members wearing white hoods and burning crosses?
  5. When the KKK first started out, they dressed in white to impersonate ghosts or “spectral” beings, drawing on then-resonant symbols from mythology to perform “pranks” on African-Americans and others.
  6. This type of prank swiftly gained in popularity, as sheeted Klansmen terrorized their prey under the cover of night, wearing hoods and masks to conceal their identities as they committed acts of violence.
  7. When the first Klan wave swept through the United States in the nineteenth century, no recorded cross-burnings took place.
  8. Dixon, Jr.’s novelsThe Clansman andThe Leopard’s Spot to portray the KKK as heroic defenders of the Old South and white womanhood in general, drew on material fromThe Clansman to depict a cross-burning scene, the KKK was not depicted as such in The Leopard’s Spot.

One of the most popular 45rpm records ever released by the United Klans of America featured Bob Jones of the Carolina Klan reciting how the fiery cross served as a “symbol of sacrifice and service, as well as a sign of the Christian Religion sanctified and made holy nearly 19 centuries ago, by the suffering and blood of 50 million martyrs who died in the most holy faith.” It was he who stressed the importance of cross burnings, saying that they “drive away darkness and gloom…

we want to purify and cleanse our virtues by the fire on His Sword by the fire on His Cross.” As impressive as such grandiose rhetoric may have been, it could not have concealed the fact that the KKK frequently used burning crosses as a means of terror and intimidation, as well as a spectacle to attract supporters and curious onlookers to their nightly rallies, which culminated in the ritualized burning of a cross that often extended 60 or 70 feet into the sky.


Violence and intimidation have been the major tactics by which the KKK has defended its white supremacist goals throughout its history, and this has been consistent across its different “waves.” The Klan has a horrendous past, and supporting Klan apologists who downplay the group’s terroristic record makes little sense in light of that history.

Consequently, in addition to participating in political campaigns, members of the KKK marched with Klan floats, supported civic campaigns for temperance, public education, and child welfare, and hosted a variety of social events in conjunction with women’s and youth Klan auxiliary groups during the 1920s.

It acted as a “authentically white” social and civic outlet for its members, with the goal of shielding them from the changing greater world.

It is true that, absent corruption among the Klan’s own leaders, the organization’s emphasis on secret and ritual would have lost much of its evil aura, but KKK-style illegality regularly went hand in hand with corruption among the organization’s own leaders.

More crucially, Klan violence frequently resulted in a reaction against the group, both from authorities and from members of the general public.

Why do people burn crosses?

On Australia Day weekend in the Grampians, an attractive tourist area in Victoria, a group of Neo-Nazis gathered in front of a burning cross, prompting photographs of the masked men to be broadcast around the country. The rite, which was characterized as being affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan, was attended by 38 members of the far-right National Socialist Network, according to reports. They screamed Nazi chants such as “white power” and other anti-immigrant slurs. But how did the cross, which is the primary emblem of Christianity and a symbol of love and sacrifice, come to be associated with the KKK as a symbol of hatred?

  1. The Ku Klux Klan was established in the 1860s as a veterans’ organization for Confederate veterans.
  2. The Klan’s first wave of members came from every segment of white society in the United States’ southern states, and they utilized physical intimidation to prevent Black people (or white people seen to be supporting them) from voting or holding political office.
  3. The date was September 4, 1948.
  4. “The original Ku Klux Klan was not a very religious organization.
  5. They would, practically all of them, profess Christian religion, of course, but this was not a religious organization in and of itself.” Despite this, the first Klan was a secret society, and some historians believe it was influenced by Scottish history in its formation.
  6. However, the Ku Klux Klan’s first wave of members did not participate in the practice.
  7. It was no longer necessary for the KKK to function in secrecy.

They were able to get by with the help of the law of the country.

In his book, Dixon describes cross-burning as “an old sign of an unconquered race of men.” A scene from Thomas Dixon’s 1905 novel, The Clansmen, portrays a crucifix being burned at the scene of a lynching, according to the photograph.


In 1915, Methodist preacher William J Simmons and a group of around 15 other men scaled the summit of Stone Mountain in Georgia and lit a pineboard cross on top of the mountain.

That was the second cross-burning incident to be documented in the United States.

Frank was a Jewish man accused of the murder of an 11-year-old girl.

A Christian insignia representing a religious KKK organization The KKK’s second wave, which began on that Georgia hilltop with Simmons, was a racist organization that confined membership to white Christians.

According to Linda, the KKK’s second wave was predominantly a non-violent movement during this time period.

“They could be quite controversial,” Gordon said, recalling one episode in which the Klan burned crosses around the perimeter of a Catholic university and plastered flyers on synagogues.

Crosses were set ablaze as a form of intimidation and a warning.

These burning crosses were frequently seen at KKK monster rallies, which were organized on a regular basis.

It was completely open to the public.

“After a while, they switched over to utilizing light bulbs on the crosses instead of candles.” It took away some of its menacing characteristics.

The KKK’s second wave was decimated by the Great Depression in the 1930s, and the organization had all but died out by the end of World War II.

During the 1960s, the KKK’s third wave made its way into the Deep South of the United States.

In Alabama and Mississippi, it murdered African Americans, attacked the ‘Freedom Riders,’ and bombed a predominantly black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls in the process.

On a private property in Carroll County, Barry Black set fire to a cross after obtaining permission from the farm’s owner to use the place for a KKK gathering and to ignite a cross as part of the ceremony.

He was charged with cross-burning in accordance with Virginian law.

It was in 1999 when he told The Roanoke Times, “We don’t light to defile it.” ‘We burn it in order to demonstrate that Christ is still alive.’ In the words of Black, the act of burning represents the “burning away of evil.” “To this day, regardless of whether the message is a political one or if the message is also intended to frighten, the burning of a cross is a’symbol of hatred,'” Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said in the court’s judgment in Virginia v Black.

  1. At the same time, while cross-burning may not always send a scary message, it may do so on occasion.
  2. “However, as the history of cross burning demonstrates, a burning cross is not necessarily intended to terrify,” she said in her article.
  3. Klan gatherings feature this ritual, which is meant to reflect the Klan as a whole.
  4. ref url= According to Professor Gordon, white supremacists are more likely than ever before to “hang a noose” to proclaim their racist beliefs.
  5. In recent years, nearly 1700 instances of cross-burning have been documented in the United States, many of them in the front yards of African-American families.

“However, in all fairness, the vast majority have been carried out by lone racist yahoos, rather than by organized Klan groups,” writes Slate.

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