As a result of the Red Scare and also anti-immigrant feelings, groups bigots used anti-communism as their excuse to harass any group that wasn’t the same as their group. One of these groups was known as the Ku Klux Klan, or the KKK. The Ku Klux Klan was a secret organization that used terrorist tactics in an attempt to restore white supremacy in Southern states after the Civil war. This group was devoted to “One hundred percent Americanism” and by 1924, the KKK membership had reached 4.5 million white male citizens.
The Ku Klux Klan also believe in keeping black people “in their place” by destroying saloons, opposing unions, and driving Roman Catholics, Jews, and foreign-born people out of the country. One scared African American told me in an interview that members of the Klan had even been harassing their three year old daughters. Members of the KKK were paid to recruit new members into their group of secret rituals and racial violence.
Even though the Ku Klux Klan dominated state politics in many states, by the end of the decade it’s criminal activity led to a decrease in power. In the 1920s, the Klan moved in many states to dominate local and state politics. The Klan devised a strategy called the “decade,” in which every member of the Klan was responsible for recruiting ten people to vote for Klan candidates in elections. In 1924 the Klan succeeded in engineering the elections of officials from coast to coast, including the mayors of Portland, Maine, and Portland, Oregon.
In some states, such as Colorado and Indiana, they placed enough Klansmen in positions of power to effectively control the state government. Known as the “Invisible Empire,” the KKK’s presence was felt across the country. But when the Klan came to recruit in the town of Greenville, Mississippi, LeRoy Percy moved to keep the Klan out of his town. His passionate speech at the Klan’s recruitment session convinced townspeople to support a resolution to condemn the Klan.
Courtney from Study Moose