Since the early development of society in the United States, racism has always been an issue faced by communities on a political level. America was built from the immigration of people of various backgrounds. However, many white supremacists blame their personal as well as economic misfortunes on ethnic groups. African-Americans, Jews and Catholics are only some of the groups tormented by these white supremacists. As the amount of ethnic diversity gradually increased in the political systems of Louisiana and the United States, organizations were formed to challenge these ethnic groups. The Ku Klux Klan is one of these groups that were formed by people who were angered by the increasing number of influent blacks, Jews and Catholics. Local and state officials that were members of the Klan provided influence, money, and information to the racist organization. As the civil rights movement became accepted, it seemed as if the power of racist organizations increased. However, with the Klan having political figures still bringing prejudice to politics throughout the country, and with multitudes of African-American churches being burned to the ground, it seems as if the Ku Klux Klan is still a threat to the citizens USA.
The Ku Klux Klan has played a major role in American history. As the south was undergoing the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War, the votes of newly emancipated black Southerners put the Republicans in power throughout the state. White Southerners resorted to violence to preserve the white supremacy they once had. The Klan was originally arranged into secret societies that terrorized local white and black Republican leaders. They also threatened all African Americans who violated the old ideas of black inferiority. Sworn to secrecy, its members wore white robes and masks and adopted the burning cross as their symbol. The Klan members seemed to be most active during election campaigns, when they would either scare people into voting for their candidate or get rid their opponents entirely. They were best recognized for their horrible acts of violence that they called nighttime rides. These attacks included murder, rape, beatings, and warnings and were designed to overcome Republican majorities in the south. Due to the fear of a race war, state officials were unable to suppress the violence. Law enforcement officials were Klan members themselves and even when the law officers were legitimate, Klan members also sat on juries where criminally accused members were often acquitted.
Today, the Ku Klux Klan does not just threaten minority groups on the political level. Nearly 100 African-American churches have been burned to the ground in the past year and a half (1996). Some arrests made have not linked the Klan with the fires, but many have. Two South Carolina Klan members have been arrested for burglarizing and setting ablaze two churches, the Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal of Greeleyville and the Macedonia Baptist church of Bloomville. The two men, Timothy Welch and Gary Cox, had attended a Klan meeting only weeks before the fires. Welch was arrested with his Ku Klux Klan identification card in his wallet. The other, Gary Cox, lived with another Klan member in a trailer. The two men were not only charged with theft and arson, but were also charged with the beating and stabbing of a mentally handicapped black man who was waiting for a bus outside of a Wal-Mart.
The United States is known as the melting pot. Since its beginnings as small settlements, this country has always been a haven to those who need it. When many think of America they think of the land of opportunity, the land of the American dream. Where one can, no matter who they are or where they are from make it “Big Time”. The Ku Klux Klan is everything the American dream is not. It is a sign of bigotry and hatred. They have existed for over a hundred years and shattered the dreams of so many people. Many believe that since the civil rights movement the KKK is no longer a danger. But, we must not forget that racism and bigotry does not die in change of society, it has to be defeated on much higher levels. It has to be defeated in every individual living in USA today.