Defying the Ku Klux Klan

In 1866, The Ku Klux Klan was founded by confederate veterans with the intentions of stopping newly freed slaves from exercising their rights. After three years, the Klansmen decided their work was complete and the KKK diminished into nothing. However, in 1915, Joseph Simmons reformed the KKK and people all over the country began to follow. As the group grew, violence against African Americans began to grow as well.

The Ku Klux Klan eventually made its way into the media after major events occurred, such as Klansmen being voted into government positions. The media impacted the Klan in both positive and negative ways. The New York newspaper, The World attempted to ruin and expose the KKK by giving out statistics on Klan responsible murders and assaults. Their efforts backfired and after the article was published, more people joined. On the other hand, in 1923, the Memphis newspaper, Commercial Appeal added an anti-KKK cartoon to their front page suggesting that a Klansman would not be fit to work in any government position. The cartoon was very influential and a success. The Klansman was soon rejected, resulting in the newspaper to win the Pulitzer Prize for public service.


Ku Klux Klan members March 17, 1922 from Wikimedia Commons


Ku Klux Klan- A White Supremacy group that made “a commitment to self-defined traditional American values, and a list of people to blame for social upheaval.”

William Joseph Simmons- Founder of the revived version Ku Klux Klan.

New York World- The News paper that first started to defy the Ku Klux Klan. Released full page ads reading “Ku Klux Klan Exposed”.

Commercial Appeal- Memphis paper that also publicly attacked the KKK. They called the Klan a profit-making scam.

Grover Cleveland Hall- Editor of the Montgomery Advertiser that condemned the Klan’s flogging towards people. One of the few papers that did not support this.


Ku Klux Klan Parade from Wikimedia Commons

Discussion Questions:

  1. While the Ku Klux Klan isn’t as prevalent today do we still have need for media combatting hate? What are some groups?
  2. What are some ways that the media tries to stop racism and hate today?

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