Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the standoff at Standing Rock or news about the movements fighting for peace, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How is this possible? Only with your support. If every visitor to this site in December gave just $10 we could cover our basic operating costs for 2017. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2017.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Topics

Ku Klux Klan: Its Beginnings, 1865

StoryFebruary 17, 1997
Watch iconWatch Full Show

A special report produced by Pacifica’s Southern Regional correspondent, Alan Lipke: narration by Amy Goodman; commentary by author and activist Stetson Kennedy whose books The Klan Unmasked, The Jim Crow Guide, Southern Exposure, and now After Appomattox –the books challenge the many myths regarding the Klan’s beginnings and purpose.

The Reconstruction Klan was composed of Confederate soldiers who moved from open warfare into guerrilla warfare; its mission was to preserve power and privilege, and to keep the South as close to the system of pre-war chattel slavery as possible. The Klan grew rapidly; former Confederate generals served as Grand Dragons for their respective states. Its first national leader was Nathan Bedford Forest, former cavalry general and slave trader.

In each voting precinct there is a captain who is required to make a list of
names; the Grand Commander of the state is then able to identify friends and opponents.

After Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson—a white supremacist from Tennessee—ordered federal occupation troops to remain in their camps. Negro hunts were organized throughout the South; over 2000 blacks were murdered in Louisiana alone.

In 1868 Nathan Forest declared the KKK dissolved—although its terror continued and its organizational structure remained in tact. Under the 15th amendment, states were prohibited from interfering with freed men’s right to vote, although private groups continued to do so. Under pressure, Congress appointed a joint committee to investigate; hearings were held across the South. The U.S. government printed handbills offering protection to witnesses; the KKK distributed handbills threatening witnesses with death; harassment and torture continued.

The Democratic Minority Report of the 1871 Investigative Committee dismissed the 167 Black witnesses in the hearings as devoid of sufficient intelligence; white witnesses were dismissed as unreliable mischief makers. Officials and populations were terrorized. At the 1876 Presidential elections, black communities were driven away from the polling places. The white police and militia had assumed the role of the Klan. The era of the lynch mob began and lasted for over fifty years.


The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.

Make a donation