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Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-rightorganizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically expressed through terrorism. Since the mid-20th century, the KKK has also been anti-communist.[10] Thecurrent manifestation is splintered into several chapters and is classified as a hate group.[12]

The first Klan flourished in the South in the 1860s, then died out by the early 1870s. Members adopted white costumes: robes, masks, and conical hats, designed to be outlandish and terrifying, and to hide their identities.[13] The second KKK flourished nationwide in the early and mid 1920s, and adoptedthe same costumes and code words as the first Klan, while introducing cross burnings.[14] The third KKK emerged after World War II and was associated with opposing the civil rights movement and progress among minorities. The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent reference to the USA's "Anglo-Saxon" and "Celtic" blood, harking back to 19th-century nativism and claimingdescent from the original 18th-century British colonial revolutionaries.[15] All incarnations of the Klan have well-established records of engaging in terrorism, though historians debate how widely the tactic was supported by the membership of the second KKK


Second KKK

In 1915, the second Klan was founded and remained a small organization in Georgia. Starting in 1921, it adopted a modernbusiness system of recruiting (which paid most of the initiation fee and costume charges to the organizers) and grew rapidly nationwide at a time of prosperity. Reflecting the social tensions of urban industrialization and vastly increased immigration, its membership grew most rapidly in cities, and spread to the Midwest and West out of the South. The second KKK preached Americanism and purificationof politics, with strongracism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Communism, nativism, and antisemitism. Some local groups took part in attacks on private houses, and carried out other violent activities. The violent episodes were generally in the South.[19]

The second Klan was a formal fraternal organization, with a national and state structure. At its peak in the mid-1920s, the organization claimed toinclude about 15% of the nation's eligible population, approximately 4–5 million men. Internal divisions, criminal behavior by leaders, and external opposition brought about a collapse in membership, which had dropped to about 30,000 by 1930. It finally faded away in the 1940s.[20]

Three events in 1915 acted as catalysts to the revival of the Klan:

▪ The film The Birth of a Nation wasreleased, mythologizing and glorifying the first Klan.
▪ Leo Frank was lynched near Atlanta after the Georgia governor commuted his death sentence to life in prison. Frank had been convicted in 1913 and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young white factory worker named Mary Phagan, in a trial marked by intimidation of the jury and media frenzy. His legal appeals had been exhausted.
▪The second Ku Klux Klan was founded by William J. Simmons at Stone Mountain, outside Atlanta. It added to the original anti-black ideology with a new anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, prohibitionist and antisemitic agenda. Most of the founders were from an Atlanta-area organization calling itself the Knights of Mary Phagan, which had organized around Leo Frank's trial. The new organization emulatedthe fictionalized version of the Klan presented in The Birth of a Nation.
▪ The second Klan arose during the nadir of American race relations, in response to urbanization and industrialization. Massive immigration from the largely Catholic countries of eastern and southern Europe led to friction with America's longer-established Protestant citizens. The Great Migration of African Americans to...
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