The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan
By David Cunningham
(Oxford University Press, USA, Hardcover, 9780199752027, 360pp.)
Publication Date: November 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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"All too often scholars tend to treat social movements as akin to organizations, as coherent, singular entities rather than as the unruly collections of groups and factions they tend to be. In this important book on the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina in the 1960s, Cunningham honors this messiness, while proposing a model of 'mediated competition' to explain local variation in the extent and form of Klan mobilization in the state. Anyone interested in the Klan, the civil rights movement, or social movements in general will want to have this on their shelf." --Doug McAdam, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University
"Cunningham's nuanced study shows us why understanding the past is still relevant for today. In mapping the legacies of organized racial extremism in the midst of perceived scarcity of resources, Cunningham offers a road map for countering the rise of hate groups today." --Susan M. Glisson, Executive Director, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation
"David Cunningham's deeply researched and well-crafted Klansville, U.S.A. lifts the sheet on the civil rights-era Ku Klux Klan in its stronghold of North Carolina, supposedly the progressive South, where KKK membership far outstripped that of any other Southern state. The Carolina Klan blocked black voting, burned newly-integrated schools and committed hundreds of shootings, beatings, bombings, and other acts of terror. Setting this appalling story in the larger context of America's flirtation with the hooded order, Cunningham offers a look into the past-and into the mirror, where our shadows, memories and hopes abide." --Tim Tyson, Duke University, and author of Blood Done Sign My Name
In the 1960s, on the heels of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision and in the midst of the growing Civil Rights Movement, Ku Klux Klan activity boomed, reaching an intensity not seen since the 1920s, when the KKK boasted over 4 million members. Most surprisingly, the state with the largest Klan membership-more than the rest of the South combined-was North Carolina, a supposed bastion of southern-style progressivism.
Klansville, U.S.A. is the first substantial history of the civil rights-era KKK's astounding rise and fall, focusing on the under-explored case of the United Klans of America (UKA) in North Carolina. Why the UKA flourished in the Tar Heel state presents a fascinating puzzle and a window into the complex appeal of the Klan as a whole. Drawing on a range of new archival sources and interviews with Klan members, including state and national leaders, the book uncovers the complex logic of KKK activity. David Cunningham demonstrates that the Klan organized most successfully where whites perceived civil rights reforms to be a significant threat to their status, where mainstream outlets for segregationist resistance were lacking, and where the policing of the Klan's activities was lax. Moreover, by connecting the Klan to the more mainstream segregationist and anti-communist groups across the South, Cunningham provides valuable insight into southern conservatism, its resistance to civil rights, and the region's subsequent dramatic shift to the Republican Party.
Klansville, U.S.A. illuminates a period of Klan history that has been largely ignored, shedding new light on organized racism and on how political extremism can intersect with mainstream institutions and ideals.