‘Thematic night’ offers this Saturday ‘The Ku Klux Klan: an American history’, an analysis of more than 150 years of marginalization, violate ‘Thematic night’ offers this Saturday ‘The Ku Klux Klan: an American history’ , a analysis of more than 150 years of marginalization, violence and terror. The program of La 2 (11:40 pm) includes two documentaries about the racist secret society: ‘The birth of an invisible empire’ and ‘The resurgence’.
From the abolition of slavery in the 19th century to the populism of the interwar period, from the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s to the recent riots in Charlottesville, the history of the Ku Klux Klan is inseparable from that of the USA.
‘The birth of an invisible empire’ starts in 1865, when the Civil War has ended. A few months later slavery was abolished. A group of Southerners veterans of Scottish origin founded a secret society that evokes the times of the slave south: the Klan was born.
The south must remain in white hands. Murders and lynchings are skyrocketing. The invisible empire gradually turned into a violent militia to terrorize freed slaves. In everyday life, blacks and whites would not mix.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the United States attracts waves of immigrants. The Klan had fallen into oblivion, but 50 years after the Civil War it was to rise from its ashes. In 1915 , David W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’ opened in theaters , portraying the postwar period in its own way: Klan men are presented as vigilantes.
The film rekindled curiosity about the Klan, and one man was going to take advantage of it: William Joseph Simmons, who dreamed of recreating the Ku Klux Klan to bring the southern legacy to fruition, and, incidentally, make money .
The influence of the Klan in American political life was considerable. In the 1920s, the Invisible Empire had 11 governors, 75 congressmen, and 16 senators. It organized events, its members came with wives and children, and a very festive atmosphere reigned . It grew to more than four million members in the 1920s, before disappearing.
In the second documentary, ‘El resurgir’, the reappearance of the racist organization is analyzed . After World War II, the Klan resurfaced, but the civil rights movement began to demand justice. In December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus.
At the same time, Pastor Martin Luther King launched a campaign of nonviolent struggle to achieve equality between blacks and whites. Although their movement was peaceful, the police repression was not.
Luther King’s dream
Despite the obstacles, on August 28, 1963, more than 300,000 Americans , black and white, marched in Washington to demand another society. It was a unique moment in US history. Martin Luther King laid out his dream for the whole country.
In the south, supporters of white supremacy were on the defensive. His response was radicalization. Two weeks after that great march, on September 15, 1963, at the Baptist Church on 16th Street, in the heart of the black neighborhood of Birmingham (Alabama), a bomb exploded . An attack in which four girls were killed.
Although fortunately less frequent than in the 1960s, crimes and racist violence are still present. The Klan is currently estimated to have about 6,000 active members , but white supremacist groups have disintegrated into an infinite number of cells.