Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan
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In the 1960s, on the heels of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and in the midst of the growing Civil Rights Movement, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 1920s, when the KKK boasted over 4 million members. Most surprisingly, the state with the largest Klan membership-more than the rest of the South combined-was North Carolina, a supposed bastion of southern-style progressivism.
Klansville, U.S.A. is the first substantial history of the civil rights-era KKK's astounding rise and fall, focusing on the under-explored case of the United Klans of America (UKA) in North Carolina. Why the UKA flourished in the Tar Heel state presents a fascinating puzzle and a window into the complex appeal of the Klan as a whole. Drawing on a range of new archival sources and interviews with Klan members, including state and national leaders, the book uncovers the complex logic of KKK activity. David Cunningham demonstrates that the Klan organized most successfully where whites perceived civil rights reforms to be a significant threat to their status, where mainstream outlets for segregationist resistance were lacking, and where the policing of the Klan's activities was lax. Moreover, by connecting the Klan to the more mainstream segregationist and anti-communist groups across the South, Cunningham provides valuable insight into southern conservatism, its resistance to civil rights, and the region's subsequent dramatic shift to the Republican Party.
Klansville, U.S.A. illuminates a period of Klan history that has been largely ignored, shedding new light on organized racism and on how political extremism can intersect with mainstream institutions and ideals.
KLANSVILLE, U.S.A. KLANSVILLE, U.S.A. The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan David Cunningham Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide Oxford New York Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto With offices in Argentina Austria
where the UKA enjoyed broad support.28 Over the next six months, Charlotte and sixteen other field offices initiated thirty-six actions against klan-related targets. Several involved writing anonymous chain letters designed to sow dissension among members. Agents also supplied information to local officials to block UKA permit requests, and to “friendly media sources” to remove newspaper ads for klan turkey shoot fund-raisers. Later proposals involved sabotaging the sound system that the UKA
Georgia, members of the Moore’s Ford Committee stage an annual dramatic reenactment of a 1946 lynching. Descendants of Rosewood, Florida, residents have fought for reparations stemming from the razing of the primarily black town following a 1923 rape claim.32 In each case, the focus on past events serves as a vehicle to spark conversations and reconsiderations of contemporary forms of injustice in local communities. A logical product of such dialogue is a renewed commitment to programs and
ordered him to refuse to provide requested information to government investigators. Anyone who was true to his or her country should have “nothing to hide,” DuBois reasoned, a conclusion that motivated his exit due to an irreconcilable sense that the UKA’s mission was at odds with his loyalties to God and nation. Similarly, Roy Woodle, a well-known kludd, broke with the UKA after accusing Jones and other state leaders of betraying the group’s supposed Christian foundation. “I had enough,” he
the flames had dimmed. We tell the story every year.17 Even as the UKA attracted thousands to its nightly rallies, many of North Carolina’s most influential officials believed that klan action usually amounted to “nothing.” Several high-ranking police agents during that period confided to me that although they considered the prevention of klan violence a top priority, they often wouldn’t take cross burnings and the like seriously because in the end such acts “didn’t really hurt anyone.” But as