The KKK—1890’s, 1970’s, and Today
A few years ago, my mother told me something thought provoking: we had once lived on the same block as the leader of the local Ku Klux Klan chapter. That had been in Charlotte, North Carolina, around 1994. The Ku Klux Klan, according to Blaine Varney in Lynching in the 1890’s, used to “…set out on nightly ‘terror rides’ to harass ‘uppity Negroes’….” They are far more infamous, however, for their “lynching”—nightly “terror rides” that included murder—of African Americans. Varney tells us lynching levels reached their pinnacle in 1892, with 161 recorded murders that year. In modern times, most Americans would agree that the Klan, along with any form of white supremacy, has no place in society—and pointing out its survival is a good way to imply that we, as a people, are still not perfect.
The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee (JBAKC) is committed to fighting against the continued existence of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as the oppression and white supremacist doctrine it idolizes. The JBAKC was founded in 1978, in part by one Lisa Roth; she and others formed the group after investigating Klan ties to New York State prisons. The New York Klan incorporation papers they found told all: every New York State Klan member was employed as a guard in the Napanoch, New York prison. What’s more, the person who had incorporated the Klan’s state chapter was none other than the head of the guard unit there (Trodd 281). In Take a Stand Against the Klan, the JBAKC outlines its fight against the Ku Klux Klan, and urges its readers to stand up against white supremacy by supporting liberation struggles.
As might be conjectured by the name of the group, the John Brown Anti-Klan Committee takes after John Brown, a white man who led a raid on Harpers Ferry on October 16th, 1859, as per a plan to liberate slaves in the south (PBS.com). The JBAKC keeps John Brown’s action-oriented mindset central to their message in Take a Stand Against the Clan, writing, “To this day, John Brown remains a leading example of a white American willing to take up arms under the leadership of the Black Liberation struggle in the fight against white supremacy.” They go on to provide three emphasized, bolded points that embody the JBAKC’s “Principles of Unity.” While valid, one might argue that these points could seemingly parallel white supremacists’ extremist attitudes. Point one urges readers, “Fight White Supremacy in All its Forms! Death to the Klan!”, then further explicates that the struggle against white supremacy has gone on for 400 years. Point two commands, “Follow Black and Other Third World Leadership!” The sub-point then specifies that white people must also take a stand against their own who advocate for white supremacy. And finally, point three reads “Support the Struggle of Third World People…! Oppose White Supremacist Attacks!” The JBAKC here makes it clear that they oppose not just the Klan, but all white supremacy, including...