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150 Years of the Ku Klux Klan

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image Virtually unknown, even in the U.S., a women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan has grown into a powerful organization in the south. The women’s Klan salute to the cross at Atlanta, Georgia, on Aug. 18, 1937. (Photo: AP)

Attention has been focused on the almost mythical Ku Klux Klan organization in the United States, following the allegations that Senator Black, the new Supreme Court judge, was a member of the sect.

Born in the ashes of the smoldering South after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan died and was reborn before losing the fight against civil rights in the 1960s. Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks. Many assumed the group was dead, a white-robed ghost of hate and violence.

Yet today, the KKK is still alive and dreams of restoring itself to what it once was: an invisible white supremacist empire spreading its tentacles throughout society. As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.

Klan members still gather by the dozens under starry Southern skies to set fire to crosses in the dead of night, and KKK leaflets have shown up in suburban neighborhoods from the Deep South to the Northeast in recent months. Perhaps most unwelcome to opponents, some independent Klan organizations say they are merging with larger groups to build strength. (AP)

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