The Ku Klux Klan Murdered My Family Members And Now They Are Recruiting New Members

Photo:  Mark Reinstein / Shutterstock
KKK rally

My great aunt and uncle were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1960s. 

At the time my family was living in Alabama. My great aunt and uncle witnessed a crime. The Ku Klux Klan arrived at my aunt’s house, tied them up in front of their window, and set their house on fire. They were burned alive.

Recently the Ku Klux Klan has decided to recruit new members in St. Joseph County, Indiana. They've been placing applications on residents’ doorsteps. Residents that are interested in joining the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are to submit an application that includes their race, blood type, home address, and confirmation that they are white, and not Jewish. 

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The KKK murdered my family members, and now they want to bring in more members

My mother’s side of the family was born and raised in the south. My grandmother was born in Eufala, AL, and my grandfather was born in Orlando, FL. Growing up in Alabama in the 1950s was rough for a Black person. You were always walking on eggshells around “the white folk,” as my granny calls them.

My family’s first encounter with the Klan happened before my grandmother was born. At the time her uncle was sleeping with a white woman. During the Jim Crow era, inter-racial relationships were taboo. Dating, looking, “cat-calling,” and sex with the white race was not tolerated. After word spread around town about her uncle’s relationship, the Klan murdered him and threw him in a ditch so that those who walked or drove by would see him. For her safety, my grandmother left Alabama and moved to Florida.

Although my grandmother moved to Florida, she didn’t escape racism or the fear of being Black. Being Black meant there was no justice. Hearing that a Black man or woman was killed by white people was something that my family just had to get over.

They had to watch their every move. Growing up and hearing these awful stories made me fearful of being in white areas. Every year at school during Black History month, our school would show videos about the Civil Rights Movement and the evil endured at the hands of white people. Other children were scared but I don’t think they were scared for the same reasons I was. I had nightmares that one day I would look out my window and see a cross burning in our yard. I had a fear of being Black that I carry around even as an adult.

I’m proud to be Black, but I understand that it comes with a burden to be carried in America.

When was the KKK founded?

The Ku Klux Klan are domestic terrorists. They are considered anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-miscegenation, anti-Semitic, homophobic, nativist, racist, segregationist, and xenophobic. They are white nationalists who support white supremacy.

The Ku Klux Klan was originally founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee by six Confederate veterans of the Civil War. At the time, the Ku Klux Klan had little momentum and disbanded, but not for long. Following the infamous 1915 film, "Birth of a Nation," interest in the Ku Klux Klan was restored and KKK leader William Joseph Simmons led a resurgence of the group.

By the 1920s, Klan membership was thriving with an estimated 3-8 million members around the nation. Members of the Ku Klux Klan terrorized and murdered people of color to control them and suppress their right to vote. Since its creation in 1865, the Klan grew to encompass multiple factions across the nation. There are currently 160 chapters across 41 states, and now less than 3,000 members.

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The KKK symbols still mean the same thing they always have

The Ku Klux Klan has tried to rebrand its image into one based on love in recent years, but we’re not buying it. Over the years, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Klan has sought to use the fight for equality to recruit members.

On June 17, 2015, Dylan Roof entered Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina during Bible study and murdered nine African Americans. Within days, the Klan began sending out recruitment fliers to residents of Mississippi, California, Florida, Alabama, Kansas, and Georgia. To be even more persuasive they included a goodie bag of peppermints and tootsie rolls.

What’s even more shocking was the message they had for prospective members. “We in the Loyal White Knights of the KKK would like to say hail victory to … Dylan S. Roof who decided to do what the Bible told him...An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. They [Black people] have spilled our blood too long. It’s about time someone spilled theirs.” But they [the Klan] somehow don't consider themselves to be a hate group.

The Ku Klux Klan is one of the many hate groups in the nation with a long history of discrimination, racism, and violence. When I look at the Ku Klux Klan I don't see love, I see hatred. Factions of the Ku Klux Klan shouldn’t be allowed to recruit members. Seeing member propaganda being passed out is offensive. 

It's way past time we disbanded the Klan. 

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LaShawnte Burgess is a freelance writer for YourTango that writes entertainment and news articles.