Klansville, U.S.A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan (Hardcover)
The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan
OUP Us, 9780199752027, 360pp.
Publication Date: November 14, 2012
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.
About the Author
David Cunningham is Professor and Chair of Sociology and the Social Justice and Social Policy Program at Brandeis University. Over the past decade, he has worked with the Greensboro (N.C.) Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as the Mississippi Truth Project, and served as a consulting expert in several court cases. The author of There's Something Happening Here: The New Left, the Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence, his current research focuses on the causes, consequences, and legacy of racial violence.