In the 1960s, the South, was rife with racial tension. The Supreme Court had just declared, in its landmark case Brown vs. Board of Education, that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, and the country was in the midst of a growing Civil Rights Movement. In response to these events, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 20s, when they boasted over four million members. Surprisingly, North Carolina, which had been one of the more progressive Southern states, had the largest and most active Klan membership — greater than the rest of the South combined — earning it the nickname “Klansville, USA”. This slideshow features images from the time of the Civil Rights-era Klan.
A rally against school integration, 1959
In the wake of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, and in the midst of the growing Civil Rights Movement, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 1920s. (Image credit: United States Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons)
United Klans of America Charter and Business Card
The UKA adopted the trappings of a bureaucratic organization. North Carolina Klan leader Bob Jones distributed business cards that announced him as Grand Dragon. (Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)
Crowd at 1963 March on Washington
“We have the same right as the Negro to demonstrate,” Bob Jones told reporters, responding in part to the previous week’s March on Washington, which had attracted an estimated quarter-million Civil Rights supporters to the nation’s capital. (Image credit: National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons)
United Klans of America Flyer
The UKA printed up to two thousand of these flyers to advertise each rally. Members passed them out to likely candidates at service stations, cafes, and other meeting spaces. (Image courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)
UKA Membership Cards
UKA members stapling their membership cards to a cross burned at a rally in September 1969. With Bob Jones in prison on contempt of Congress charges, the group never recovered. (Image courtesy of Don Sturkey)
Be sure to check out the American Experience documentary Klansville U.S.A. airing Tuesday, 13 January on PBS.
Heading image: The Ku Klux Klan on parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, 1928. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.