Test your knowledge with a quiz
- The Ku Klux Klan was a significant presence throughout the United States in the early 20th century, and not, as is often assumed, in just the southern states. The KKK used terror to ensure white supremacy. Although African-Americans were their primary target, they also terrorized Catholics, Jews, and Eastern and Southern Europeans, all of whom they considered non-white.
- The Klan enforced white supremacy in southern states in the wake of the Civil War but largely consisted of local groups without a national profile or organization. D.W. Griffith’s film Birth of a Nation was a major impetus for the growth and centralization of the KKK in the early 20th century. At the same time, backlash to the film propelled the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) and civil rights activists to fight against circulation of the film and its negative portrayal of African-Americans.
- This robe, and others like it, were mass-produced and widely available. This particular model was constructed of plain cotton and included minimal ornamentation. It sold for five dollars. The design of the robe and hood was intended to represent its wearer as a larger-than-life figure and hide the wearer’s identity.
More to think about
How would you feel if you saw this object displayed in a museum? Do you think museums should, or should not, preserve and display artefacts with violent or racist histories? What are some arguments for and against doing so?