The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is America’s oldest hate group. The group was founded on Christmas Eve night in 1865 by a group of ex-Confederate officers. Originally formed as a prank, the KKK was no laughing matter. The KKK has a long history of violence and other forms of terrorism. Sadly, many educated men and women have passed through the ranks of the KKK, including a list of politicians and other famous people.
1st Era of the KKK 1865-1877
Legends claim that the first “night ride” of the KKK took place on Christmas Eve night in 1865. The KKK was founded as a prank by a group of ex-Confederate officers. The KKK soon became more than a prank. The KKK became a terrorist group which main goal was to destroy Reconstruction and return white supremacy to the southern states of the Unites States. The original Klan was most active between the years of 1865-1867, however “night runs” continued until 1877. Other groups during this same time frame copied the KKK’s image and terrorism. Famous people who joined the original KKK included Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first “Grand Wizard” (National Leader) of the KKK and Albert Pike, who wrote the KKK’s creed. At its peak, the original KKK had over 500,000 members.
2nd Era of the KKK 1915-1929
The second era KKK was formed in 1915. The first few years saw little growth. During the 1920’s, the KKK had between 4-6 million members, depending on what source you use. The KKK of the 2nd era actually had more members in the north than the south, with Indiana having the most. Most figures claim Indiana had over 500,000 paying members, not counting the women of the KKK. The “new” KKK was considered a Christian organization which was “100% Americanism” that fought against Jews, Blacks, Catholics and immigrants. The KKK also took a stance against prohibition. By 1926, the KKK was rocked with sex scandals, drinking scandals and the misuse of funds by national and state leaders. By 1929, the KKK had only 100,000 or so members.
3rd Era of the KKK 1930-1946
The 3rd era of the KKK was mostly active in the south. The group was very violent in nature with very little being done, with most southern politicians and law enforcement agencies turning a blind eye. In 1946, the US Government sued the KKK for not paying taxes. Most thought this would destroy the KKK once and for all. This would only stop the KKK for a short period of time.
4th Era of the KKK 1948-1970
The KKK of the 4th era would not make the same mistakes as the 2nd and 3rd era KKK. Instead of just one National group, the KKK would become numerous groups. This made the KKK harder to track by the FBI and government. Each KKK group would be independent from one another with different leadership and structure. Some KKK groups were small, while others such as the United Klans of America (UKA) were large and powerful. Studies put KKK membership of the 1950’s and 1960’s as low as 100,000 and as high as 500,000. During this era, the KKK threatened, attacked and murdered thousands of innocent victims. By 1970, the KKK only had around 1,500 members.
5th Era of the KKK 1970-1997
The start of the 1970’s did not look good for the KKK. KKK membership was at an all-time low. Many KKK rallies saw KKK members being attacked by protesters. In 1974 a new face of the KKK emerged. His name was David Duke, a future Congressman of Louisiana. Within a few years ,the KKK membership rose to over 15,000, with Duke having 1/3 of those members in his Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK was again rocked with scandal when two members of the UKA murdered a black man. The UKA was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1987. This helped dwindle KKK membership to around 3,000-4,000 during the beginning of the 1990’s.
6th Era of the KKK 1997-2013
From 1990-1996, the KKK was barley active, besides the American Knights of the KKK, a group more known for appearing on Jerry Springer and acting like complete morons than actually ever doing anything. In 1997, all of that was about to change. The Imperial Klans of America (IKA) formed in 1997. Originally started as a small group with membership in about 3-4 states, a horrible FBI raid on the Kentucky “compound” helped generate buzz around this “Nazi” looking KKK. By 2003, the IKA had membership in 39 states and seven countries outside the USA. The IKA also held a three-day event known as “Nordic Fest” which was known to draw hundreds of white supremacists from around the world. Once again violence and scandal rocked the KKK. The IKA and other KKK groups saw membership disappear in recent times. As of today, most experts put KKK membership between 4,000-6,000 members.
The KKK of today
The KKK has once again, fallen apart. There’s around three dozen KKK groups in the United States, most with only a handful of members. The most active KKK group of today seems to be the Traditionalist American Knights, with membership in over 20 states. Even their events draw little media attention and very low turnouts. Rumors claim their Imperial Wizard, Frank Ancona is Jewish. Even with a lack of membership, the KKK is no joke. The KKK always has the potential of growth and of course, violence.
Famous KKK Groups
The Georgia Knights of the KKK – The group which helped start the 4th era of the KKK in 1948. During the 1950’s and much of the 1960’s, the Georgia Knights were a very large and active group throughout the state of Georgia. Today, smaller groups carry their name.
United Klans of America (UKA) – The largest KKK group of the 4th era. Some claim the UKA had over 100,000 members. The UKA was known for bombings and murder. The UKA was sued in 1987 by the SPLC and soon, disappeared.
The White Knights of Mississippi – A group only active in Mississippi. The group was as violent as the UKA. Many of it’s members were sent to prison, including Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers. I do believe a group is currently using their name.
National Knights of the KKK – One of the most active groups during the 5th era. At it’s peak, the National Knights had over 1,500 members in the 1970’s. The group remained active up until around 2001 or 2002. Today, while still around, the group only exists with a handful of members.
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Knights Party) – The group was founded in 1974 by David Duke. The Knights were the largest Klan group during the 1970’s. When I was a member, the Knights saw a comeback in the early 2000’s, with maybe as many as 1,000 members. Today, the group has maybe, if lucky, 250 members. They are mostly a internet group.
American Knights of the KKK – Ever see the KKK on Jerry Springer during the 1990’s? If so, it was them. Sadly, this joke was the largest KKK group of the early-mid 1990’s. Their leader went to jail and died in 2013. Nobody misses him and nobody cares. The group as far as I know, no longer exists.
Imperial Klans of America – The IKA was the largest KKK group for much of the 2000’s. They were also the most violent KKK group, even attacking other white power groups. The group was sued by the SPLC for a hate crime and their founder and leader Ron Edwards, was arrested during a drug deal gone bad. The group as of today, has a membership of maybe three dozen.
US Klans of America – They are the oldest KKK group in the world. They know Klan Kraft better than anyone and are very secretive. Nobody openly joins the US Klans. They pick you. In my home state, rumors always claim a lot of law enforcement are members of the US Klans, mainly in smaller towns.
Traditionalist American Knights – They are currently the largest KKK group in the United States. In recent times, many smaller KKK groups have joined their ranks. They seem to have membership in over 20 states.