Happy Monday everyone:
The conclusion of the American Civil War, the victory of the Union Army, and the abolishment of slavery in the United States did unfortunately not end racism in America. On Christmas Eve, December 24th 1885, the Ku Klux Klan was created by veterans of the Confederate Army in Tennessee. The name Ku Klux Klan comes from the greek “Kyklos” which means circle and “clan” which means family; essentially meaning a “circled or closed family”. The KKK has long been known in America as a terrorist hate group with the stated purpose of demanding a “white man’s government, the re-enfranchisement of the white men of the South, and the restitution of the Southern people to all their rights…primary goals include curbing the education, economic advancement, voting rights and right to keep and bear arms of blacks…”
The KKK hate organization has grown and diminished in power throughout American history; though had the most influence in Bakersfield in the early 1900’s. This was due to the release of a movie called “Birth of a Nation”, a silent film that holds an infamous record as the first movie ever shown in the White House. The movie’s plot centers on the creation of the KKK and is thought to have inspired many people in America to join the Klan in the 1900’s.
In Bakersfield, the movie was so popular that Kern County Union High School (currently known as Bakersfield High School/BHS) held a bonfire rally with students dressed as klansmen parading before a football game on campus.
(Kern County Union High School and tickets to see The Birth of a Nation in Bakersfield)
The Klan took a real hold in Bakersfield in 1921 after KKK recruiters from Georgia came and began inducting Kern Country residents into the organization. The Klan actually has a float in the Bakersfield Fourth of July Parade.
(Bakersfield Fourth of July Parade 1921)
Eventually the District Attorney and the local newspaper, The Bakersfield Californian, using help from the Los Angeles Police Force, published the named of every person in town who was a member of the KKK and the organization lost its hold in Bakersfield.
To watch the movie that inspired the KKK to grow in Bakersfield, click on the YouTube video below. Fair warning, beyond its strong racist tones, its a silent film and over 3 hours long. Not that bored just yet on quarantine.
Comment below what you think of the KKK once holding parades in the streets of Bakersfield. How do you think that would go for them now?
Have a great Monday everyone!