The KKK and racial problems
The Ku Klux Klan was basically based in the south of America. Here they targeted those set free after the American Civil War – the African Americans. The KKK had never considered the former slaves as being free and terrorised Africa American families based in the South. America experienced great economic prosperity during the 1920’s but not much of it filtered to the South. Racism mixed with anger at their economic plight formed a potent cocktail.
Many different groups had emigrated to America over the years. One group – the Blacks – had been brought there against their will and after the success of the northern states during the Civil War and the freeing of the Blacks from slavery in 1865, a sinister group was established which was designed to spread fear throughout the Black population that still lived in the southern states. This was the KKK. Only WASP’s could belong to it — White Anglo-Saxon Protestants. It is a common myth that the KKK targeted only the Blacks – also hated were the Jews, Catholics, liberals etc but most hatred was directed against the poor black families in the south who were very vulnerable to attack.
A meeting of the KKK in 1922
The leader of the KKK in the 1920’s was a dentist called Hiram Wesley Evans whose name in the KKK was Imperial Wizard. The KKK were a violent organisation. The white hooded KKK burnt churches of the black population, murdered, raped, castrated etc and they were rarely caught as most senior law officers in the South were high ranking KKK men or sympathetic with their aims – which was a white protestant south. Even white people who had contacts with the blacks had reason to fear the KKK.
The Black Americans tried to fight back using non-violent methods. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) asked Washington for new laws to help combat the KKK violence but received very little, if any, help. In the 1920’s Black Americans started to turn to the ‘Back to Africa’ movement which told blacks that they should return to their native America. This was started by Marcus Garvey but the whole movement faltered when he was arrested for fraud and sent to prison.