The KKK, other opposition groups and African American Civil Rights (20th Century)

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 02-06-17 11:40
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  • The KKK, other anti-groups and African American Civil Rights (20th Century)
    • Revival of KKK in 20th century
      • Klan was reborn in 1915 on basis of myth
      • The Birth of a Nation film portrayed Klan as part of heroic struggle against Northern domination and black control
      • Group led by William Joseph Simmons in Georgia revived 'historic' costumes but agenda was considerably wider
      • Attracted anti-urban, anti-immigration Protestant racists
      • Enemies were not specifically AAs trying to 'get above themselves' but included Jews, Catholics, foreigners and opponents of prohibition of alcohol
      • Its targets more widespread
        • Effects on AA Civil Rights were much less - especially as they had to all intents disappeared in South
      • By mid 1920s Klan in decline
      • Racial attacks cont. but violence sporadic
        • E.g. several attacks on AAs in 1927
      • Klan membership fell from 4 mil in 1920 to 30,000 in 1930
      • Klan lingered in South throughout period
    • Resistance to Civil Rights in 1950s
      • Civil rights activists faced resistance from a number of sources
        • State governments, legislatures, senators and reps
          • Republicans did not penetrate 'solid South'.
          • Democrats' political dominance was built on defence of segregation and supremacy and they presented formidable barrier even to stronger presidents like Truman and Kennedy
      • Entrenched opposition of judicial system in many areas of South, with police forces, local councillors, courts and juries being determined to hold back change
      • Vestiges of Klan and similar organisations and traditions of violence and lynchings among white population
        • Access to weapons was easy, white juries unwilling to convict matter of racial crime
        • Civil rights often seen as Northern interference, much as abolitionism and 'carpet bagging' had been seen before and after Civil War
      • With changes stemming from WWII and greater pressure for change, revival of political violence in South was apparent
      • Wave of bombings of homes in AAs who had become more prosperous in Birmingham, Alabama
      • Sympathies of police chief 'Bull' Connor allowed attacks to go ahead without investigation
        • When Freedom Riders appeared in Birmingham, Connor allowed Klan members to attack them for fifteen minutes before taking actions
      • Were attacks on homes of members of NAACP in Florida in 1952
      • Assassinations of civil rights leader Megdar Evers in 1963 in Mississippi was not isolated instance of political violence
    • 16th Street Baptists Church in Birmingham bombed in 1963 and murder of three civil rights workers in Mississippi showed failure of radical white opposition to appreciate any change in tide of public opinion
    • Continuing violence had produced similar reaction in 1870s, with greater energy put into law enforcement and revulsion of impact on USA's international reputation
    • However, as with 1870, proved impossible to prevent acts of violence, which continued sporadically in 1970s and 1980s
    • Turning point was execution of Alabama, although took sixteen years for punishment to be inflicted
      • First time in period white man had been convicted and executed for racial murders since 1870s
    • Disturbingly, opposition to civil rights by Southern authorities and individuals and groups such as White Citizen's councils


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