The Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s

by admin - September 24th, 2017

By Meg Downing

In the 1950s, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), a largely branched white supremacist group was determined to end the lives of all black people. As this decade was the start of the civil rights movement, it was also the start of a massive increase in Klan members. There were many actions occurring, such as the Brown v. Board. This caused massive backlash. “The Ku Klux Klan experienced a resurgence, and cross burnings and violence against blacks became common. White Citizens’ Councils formed throughout the South, and found means other than violence to purse the same ends as the Klan” (p.210-Dunar). This includes employment, housing, voting, and educational discrimination.

The original KKK had been founded in 1866. Nearly every single southern state had Klans within four years. The group, besides being domestic terrorists, used their numbers to intimidate white and black leaders who were trying to bring about any change. The KKK’s goal was to keep black people as second-class citizens, believing the pigmentation of their skin determined their worth. There were numerous accounts of Klansmen even making their way into government positions. During a time where every government employee was being thoroughly investigated because of the Red Scare, this causes concern of why they were not being openly impeached because of their activities. There were also many corrupt police officers that were Klansmen themselves or did not apply the law to them. There are many who would simply say that it was a different time, but the KKK at this time fully engaged in murder and torturing of black families, which is not tolerable at any point in time.

In some southern states, there was outcry for governors to outlaw the Ku Klux Klan under state laws. One governor seemed to show his opposition of the Klan publicly, but when approached to outlaw, he deemed such a state law unconstitutional. The same governor, “Warren of Tallahassee, Florida announced that he was increasing the reward for the finding and conviction of the murderers of the Moores’, a Negro family. According to the article, the Moores were found dead in their household after a bomb went off under their bed” (The History Engine). The hate group found the existence of many minorities a problem to them, and would engage in the extremely harmful acts such as the ones done to the Moore family.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was continually working against the Klan, with it being one of the Eisenhower Commission’s primary targets. Due to the work of the agents of the FBI, they faced the threat of danger from the Klan. “Agents would always watch. They’d look underneath their cars to make sure we did not have any dynamite strapped underneath…Then you’d open up your hood and make sure that everything was clear there. We had snakes placed in mailboxes. We had threats” (

The Ku Klux Klan had gained power extremely quickly in the 1950s, much to the danger of any people of color or anyone that spoke against them. These domestic terrorists have been a group for over one hundred and fifty years in modern times and still try to make themselves a threatening presence.

Works Cited
Dunar, Andrew J. America in the Fifties. Syracuse University Press, 2006.
“The History Engine.” History Engine: Tools for Collaborative Education and Research | Episodes, The University of Richmond.
“KKK Series.” FBI, FBI, 21 July 2016.
Cunningham, David. “Truth, Reconciliation, and the Ku Klux Klan.” Southern Cultures, The University of North Carolina Press, 19 Aug. 2008.

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