The Ku Klux Klan And The Civil Rights Movement

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Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican party’s reconstruction-era polices aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. Its members waged an unseen war of intimidation and violence directed at white and black republican leaders. Through congress passed legislation designed to stop and contain Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal fulfilled through democratic victories in state legislatures across the south in the 1870s. After a period of decline, white protestant nativist group’s revived the Klan in the early 20th century, burning crosses and staging rallies, parades and marches…show more content…
Shortly after the formation of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader and confederate general, assumed control of the organization and turned it into a militaristic, hierarchical entity. In 1868, Forrest formally disbanded the group after he became appalled by its growing violence. Despite his disbandment the KKK continued to grow, and its atrocities worsened. Drawing the core of its membership from ex-confederate soldiers, the KKK may have numbered several hundred thousand at its height during reconstruction.
In1871, the federal government took several steps to counter the KKK and its violence. Congress organized a joint select committee made up of seven senators and 14 representatives of the house to look into the Klan and its activities. It then passed the civil rights act of 1871, frequently referred to as the Ku Klux Klan act, which made night riding a crime and empowered the president to order the use of federal troops to put down conspirators by force. The law also provided criminal and civil penalties for people convicted of privet conspiracies (such as those perpetrated by the KKK) intended to deny others their civil rights. Some distinguished members of congress and the Supreme Court were also involved in the KKK. Hugo L. Black was a prominent member of the U.S. Supreme Court and a former senator was a suspected KKK member. Black was a member of the Ku
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