How important was the Klu Klux Klan in causing the problems facing black Americans in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Black Americans throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s faced discrimination in the most brutal ways by the Klu Klux Klan particularly in the south. Organised groups of racists used lynching to terrorise African Americans. However, this racist brutality has to be understood in context of American society and government at that time. The Jim Crow laws made segregation legal in the south and northern blacks were subject to defacto. There were no federal laws to protect them. This resulted in whites viewing blacks as inferior and wanted to keep them oppressed. Inequalities faced by blacks continued throughout the 1920’s and 1930’s. The New Deal also had its short comings for black people.
Between 1887 and 1891, many southern states introduced Jim Crow Laws. These were anti-black laws that became a way of life in America. Under the Jim Crow laws black Americans were relegated to second class citizens. However, George Washington stated that, “ All men are created equally, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights among these are Life and Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Many Christian ministers taught that whites were the “chosen people” and blacks were cursed to be servants. God supported racial segregation. Newspapers and magazine journalists continually referred to blacks as “niggers, coons, darkies” and worse. Their articles reinforced anti-black stereotypes. Politicians gave eloquent speeches on the dangers of integration between black and white Americans. They talked of the “mongrelisation” of the white race. For these reasons laws were passed to segregate African Americans from white Americans. Jim Crow laws led to separation of schools and hospitals, separate areas on buses and trains for black and white people. African Americans were prevented from using the same facilities as whites in theatres, restaurants and public baths. 1896 the Supreme Court ruled that the Jim Crow laws did not deny African Americans their civil right guaranteed by the US Constitution. However, it is clear that blacks did not have the same conditions of equality as whites. Jim Crow laws were upheld as lawful, provided that the separate services were of equal quality and standard. The Supreme Court ignored the fact that education, medical services and other facilities were anything but equal this shows the problems faced by black Americans in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The KKK caused problems for black Americans in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The first branch of the KKK was established in Pulaski, Tennessee, in May 1866. Although the KKK started at the end of the American Civil War in 1864 – 1865, it was reformed in 1915 by William J. Simmons, a preacher influenced by Thomas Dixon’s book, The Klu Klux Klan was glorified, lynching was condoned; and African Americans were represented as simple minded beast driven by anger and envy. The Klu Klux Klan was presented as hero sans Southern African Americans as villains. The 1920’s became the golden age of the Klan, with various marches, public speeches and open recruitment. By 1920 the Klan had over 100,000 members: by 1925 this number had grown to an estimated 5 million. Many of the citizens of the USA were easy targets for the Klan propaganda, as the rising immigrant numbers had caused them concern. The Klu Klux Klan where not only violent towards African Americans as they also became extremely hostile to Jews, Catholics, socialists, communists and anyone they saw as foreigners. The Klan believed the USA was being legally invaded by different nationalities and that its duty was to protect the WASPs and to fight for the” native white Protestant supremacacy” while protecting decent American values. This is clear evidence of extreme racial beliefs of the KKK. In the years following the first world war there were riots in many northern towns, the worst