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A history of the culture of the ku klux klan

Share via Email Little do they know that they owe much of their traditions to African culture brought over to America by slaves.

  1. Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society.
  2. The Ku Klux Klan in the City, 1915—1930.
  3. According to historian Charles C. The Klan became the community watchdog, and when a citizen did not exemplify the Kluxers' moral standards, a midnight whipping party flogged the offender.
  4. Library of Congress, Washington, D. Arkansas Ku Klux Klan Materials.

Across the Southern Black Belt — named for the extent of cotton cultivation and a black majority — different masking traditions survived the suppression of African cultures and spiritual traditions. Many early Klan members learned these traditions as children growing up among African-Americans.

  1. Although Walton's administration had serious troubles in addition to the Klan, his vendetta and use of martial law against that group stirred public resentment and became the primary focus of his impeachment.
  2. Behind the Mask of Chivalry.
  3. Strikes on the North Arkansas Railroad brought the Ozark region of Arkansas to the attention of early Klan organizers. This is an important and original book in Klan historiography.
  4. Many times the recruiter would begin his work in a particular area of town by way of the fraternal orders, often carrying a letter of introduction from an affiliated lodge in the previously visited town. University of Minnesota Press, 2009.

White children often dressed up along with black children and participated in masquerades — where they saw men dress like women and hide their identities under Spanish moss or animal skins. All of these traditions would be later used by the early Klan as a way to intimidate African-Americans. No particular color or material were prescribed. In the masquerade tradition in West and Central Africa, masqueraders represent ancestral moral authority: Masqueraders in this tradition were members of secret societies charged with keeping social order and reminding people of the authority of times past.

Crossing or disrespecting the rules was met with intimidation and punishment — usually under double cover of mask and darkness. Violators of the ancestral customs might be whipped or exiled.

Cultural appropriation in America can be audacious. Just look at the Ku Klux Klan

The Klan thus incorporated a spectrum of occult language from African traditions to scare, intimidate and harass the formerly enslaved by using a spiritual horror they felt more acutely than others.

African-Americans were surrounded by war and violence: The Klansman did their best to exploit their knowledge of those beliefs. The encircled cross, a universal symbol, was embodied in the cultures of the African Atlantic as a cosmogram — the symbol of spiritual power, and the the movement of soul from the land of the living to the dead and back.

Archaeologists and anthropologists have found the use of the crossroads symbol across the South and across the African diaspora in the Americas. While this tactic might have indeed worked for some, the violence — including whippings and lynchings — were the source of most of the fear.

America and the Klan in the 1920s

Beyond this, the Klan used African traditions in an attempt to place its crimes in a wider context of Southern masquerading, so as to help dismiss claims that they were doing anything more than having a little fun when investigated.

The late professor William D Piersen began to unravel the relationship between the Klan mask and the West and Central African spiritual tradition 22 years ago years ago in his classic book Black Legacy.

Since then, the work of scholars like Elaine Parsons has further established the connection between early Klan costumes and African and Afro-Caribbean behavior and masquerading traditions in the colonial and antebellum South.

Like so much of American culture with African roots, the early Klan history is conveniently forgotten to obfuscate the contributions of enslaved people and to render them passive rather than active actors in their own narrative. As a result, few know that the Klan unashamedly co-opted and perverted African spirituality, aesthetics and culture in their mission of restoring white supremacy to the American South. To this day, much of the Southern culture as practiced by many Klan members reflects this history: The group protesting the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol grounds in South Carolina would do well to remember this.

They, and other white supremacists, like to cry over their lost Aryan purity, but the truth is from 1619 onward, that purity was gone with the wind.