Jim Crow And The Revived KKK
August 30, 2023
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is excerpted from our yet unpublished History of the Black Baptist Churches, “The Jim Crow Era (1877-1964).”

“The Democratic party came to be more than a political party in the South--it came to be a defender of a way of life. And that way of life was the restoration as much as possible of white supremacy. ... The Confederate statues you see all around were primarily erected by Democrats” (David Goldfield, The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good).

Democratic-controlled southern governments enacted segregation policies called
Jim Crow Laws which effectively disenfranchised blacks and segregated all aspects of society. (Jim Crow was a black face comedy routine that denigrated blacks.) “The region then became the Solid South, giving overwhelming majorities of its electoral votes and Congressional seats to the Democrats through 1964” (“History of the United States Republican Party,” Wikipedia).

“Segregated waiting rooms in bus and train stations were required, as well as water fountains, restrooms, building entrances, elevators, cemeteries, even amusement-park cashier windows. Laws forbade African Americans from living in white neighborhoods. Segregation was enforced for public pools, phone booths, hospitals, asylums, jails and residential homes for the elderly and handicapped. It was not uncommon to see signs posted at town and city limits warning African Americans that they were not welcome there” (“Jim Crow Laws,” History.com).

Negro Motorist Green Book, published under sponsorship of Esso and Ford Motor Company, “listed by city and state the names and addresses of hotels, restaurants, taxi services, and gas stations that would accommodate blacks.”

New segregation laws continued to be passed through the 1950s. In 1956, an Alabama law “barred blacks and whites from playing cards, dominoes, checkers, pool, football, baseball, basketball, or golf together.” In 1958, Virginia voted to close any school that enrolled both blacks and whites. In 1959, an Arkansas law required all buses to designate blacks-only seating areas.

In 1921, the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill was introduced by Lemidas Dyer, a Republican from Missouri, “to assure persons within the jurisdiction of every state the equal protection of the laws and to punish the crime of lynching.” The bill would have inflicted heavy fines “upon any country in which a lynching occurred, requiring part of the money to be given to the victim’s relatives.” The bill was defeated by the Democrats. “The ‘solid South’ with its powerful political machine was able to block the passage of the bill in the Senate through an extensive filibuster” (Leroy Fitts,
A History of Black Baptists, p. 256).

Democratic President Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) enacted segregation in the federal civil service. “Discrimination in the military was rampant. The marine corps refused to enlist blacks; the navy limited blacks to menial service occupations; and the army, which segregated its units, channeled most of its black conscripts and recruits into labor battalions” (David Krugler,
1919, the Year of Racial Violence, p. 16).

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 by W.E.B. De Bois, Mary Ovington, Moorfield Storey, and Ida Wells. The NAACP fought white supremacist violence against blacks and segregation policies. “The NAACP pursued a two-pronged strategy [against violence against blacks.] first, to document and publicize each instance of the crime; and second, to convict lynchers and law enforcement officials who colluded with lynchers. If existing law inhibited convictions, then anti-lynching legislation, at the state and federal levels, must be enacted. The first National Conference on Lynching, organized by the NAACP and held in New York in May 1919, forcefully stated this strategy” (Krugler, 1919, the Year of Racial Violence, p. 278). By 1919, there were 155 NAACP branches in the South with 42,000 members (MacLean).

The NAACP did not represent the Bible-believing side of the black culture. Many of the leaders of the NAACP were adulterers. This includes Walter White, who divorced his wife Gladys in 1949 and married Poppy Cannon, a white South African socialite, and Thurgood Marshall who had a “predilection for the ladies” (
Devil in the Grove, p. 47). In May 1954 in New York, at a celebration of a Supreme Court ruling, Marshall’s wife, Buster, was ill and bedridden, but instead of going home, Thurgood “left the Blue Ribbon with Cecilia Suyat, Gloster Current’s secretary” (Ibid., p. 339).

There was a communist wing of the NAACP. In 1949, it published a resolution to stop the Marshall Plan, which aimed to use “massive U.S. funding to jump-start the European economy and thereby prevent the spread of communism” (
Devil in the Grove, p. 206). The communist faction left the NAACP in 1950, but communist influence continued and NAACP leader Walter White admitted that “we have always kept the door open” (Devil in the Grove, p. 207).

The Revived KKK

The Ku Klux Klan was revived in 1915 and thrived through the 1940s. The founder and first Imperial Wizard was William Simmons. The founding ceremony was held on Thanksgiving night, 1915, on top of Stone Mountain near Atlanta. “With a flag fluttering in the wind beside them, a Bible open to the twelfth chapter of Romans, and a flaming cross to light the night sky above, Simmons and his disciples proclaimed the new Knights of the Ku Klux Klan” (Nancy MacLean.
Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p. 5).

Birth of a Nation, an epic, 2 hour 45-minute silent movie directed by D.W. Griffith, had a prominent role in the popularizing of the revived KKK. In fact, the 1915 movie influenced the founding of the resurrected KKK. Showing to massive audiences across the nation, it depicted the original KKK as the saviour of white American civilization from lazy, rapacious blacks. It described slave life on southern plantations as “not unhappy.” And it depicted Reconstruction was an opportunity for liberated blacks to “drag society into chaos and stalk white women.” In the final scene, black men besiege a white girl in a cabin, intending to rape her, but she is saved by the hooded KKK, who arrive in the nick of time and hang the black leader. The movie was lying propaganda, but it harnessed the full power of Hollywood filmmaking to move the emotions of the viewers and shape their thinking. The soundtrack, featuring Negro spirituals and Richard Wagner’s sensual music, was recorded by a 30-piece orchestra. “The tension became unbearable. An orchestral passage from Die Walküre heralded the assembling of the Klansmen. A bugle blast from the pit brought the audience shouting to its feet as the hooded horsemen rode to the rescue. The orchestra matched passages from ‘The Hall of the Mountain King’ to the galloping of the horses’ hoofs, as the scene shifted back and forth between the approaching Klansmen and the pale heroine in the cabin surrounded by frenzied blacks” (Hooded Americanism).

There were plenty of voices raised against the movie and it was nearly banned by the Massachusetts legislature, but it was praised by President Woodrow Wilson and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Edward White. But it grossed a massive $18 million, which would be $543 million in today’s money.

At its height in the mid-1920s, the revived KKK had as many as five million members in 4,000 local chapters (MacLean.
Behind the Mask of Chivalry). On August 8, 1925, 40,000 Klansmen marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. From midafternoon to dusk, they marched 16 to 20 abreast. At the head was a masked horse and rider, followed by the Imperial Wizard, Hiram Evans (who had replaced William Simmons), “wearing a flowing royal-purple robe, trimmed in gold, and surrounded by the rich-colored garments of his Dragons, Klokards, and Kleagles.”

The revived KKK prospered in many states outside of the South. In Colorado, the KKK “filled the seats of government, from city hall to the governor’s mansion.” In 1925, one out of every seven people in Denver, Colorado, were members. The Klan membership in Ohio was the largest in the nation. The Klan was large in Oklahoma, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It had a significant following in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont. Thousands of Klansmen attended a New England rally in western Massachusetts in 1927.

The revived KKK was not a single-issue force like the original KKK. Segregation was only one of its platforms, and segregation was not emphasized in every place. “Declaiming against organized blacks, Catholics, and Jews, along with the insidious encroachments of Bolshevism, the order put itself forward as the country’s most militant defender of ‘pure Americanism’ It stood for patriotism, ‘old-time religion,’ and conventional morality, and pledged to fend off challenges from any quarter to the rights and privileges of men from the stock of the nation’s founders” (MacLean.
Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p. 5).

The revived KKK arose in an era of great social change, turmoil, and uncertainty. Communism was on the march. Klan writers warned that “bolshevism “is now threatening the whole civilized world.” Immigration was changing the religious and social face of America. Feminism was on the march. Many believed that giving women the vote “would overturn the social order.” The jazz era was breaking down morality by creating a youth culture characterized by dating, dancing, movies, smoking, drinking, drugs, immodest dress styles, an arrogant attitude, and rebellion to authority. “Perhaps became new standards of female dress were the most visible marker of change, they served as a potent symbol in the renegotiation of female roles. Casting off the long skirts and high-necked blouses of their mothers’ generation...” (MacLean). “[D]eference to youth increasingly supplanted the veneration of age that has described classic patriarchy. Willingly or not, parents and churches ceded cultural authority to their children’s peers and a commercial mass culture. ... Movie-mania, ‘dance madness,’ ‘joy-riding,’ and even the newly discovered phenomenon of juvenile delinquency all seemed to express disregard for the authority of parents and disdain for their gender roles” (MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p. 41). Preachers warned that “girls spurned femininity, boys acted sissy, and their nighttime joyrides were taking them down the surest road to hell.” A Georgia Klansman warned that “pleasure has become the god of the young people of America, and a very unwholesome and lascivious pleasure it is.” Another warned that young people were being submerged “in a sea of sensuality and sewage.” There was a multi-fronted assault on the home. There was a dramatic increase in working moms. The divorce rate increased by 2,000 percent between the Civil War and the Great Depression, when one in six marriages ended in divorce (MacLean). Samuel Saloman’s Red War on the Family warned that “monogamic marriage is the sheet anchor of our civilization” and if it is weakened, gender roles would erode and men would become more effeminate and women more masculine, resulting in chaos and social decay. Psychology was increasing its influence in society, replacing biblical thinking. In child training, there was a move away from corporal punishment. The Searchlight, a Klan publication, observed, “The reason the old-fashioned boy worked more than the modern boy, was because of the hickory stick that lay in state above the kitchen door.” There was political corruption in government. Washington, D.C. was described as “Paris at its worst” with “the waste, greed, graft, thievery, and harlotage” (MacLean, p, 47). The was a dramatic increase in government regulations and social welfare. E.Y. Clarke represented those who saw the danger in this. “When the government takes a too personal interest in the people, the people lose their will, their sense of responsibility” (Macon Telegraph, March 15, 1928). National chain stores such as Sears and A&P Grocery were bankrupting local businesses. Darwinian evolution was gaining in acceptance and was beginning to be taught in public schools. American independence was being ceded to global organizations, beginning with the League of Nations. The Kourier, a Klan publication, warned about the establishment of a “Super State” that would “rule the world in the interest of a few.” The first World War (1914-1918) brought vast destruction and chaos. There were race riots and union riots in many parts of the country. Anarchists were plotting the overthrow of the U.S. government. In 1921, a group of preachers in Georgia warned, “The world is seething in social unrest; anarchy overwhelms whole sections” (MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p. 25).

[The revised KKK’s] greatest selling point was the protection of traditional American values. These were to be found in the bosoms and communities of white, native-born, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, whether in the small towns or transplanted into a newly minted urban America. The changing world of the 1920s, which saw postwar restlessness and new waves of immigration combined with the Prohibition-accented erosion of both the small town and fundamentalist morality, brought the Klan millions of recruits. The Invisible Empire was soon a factor to be considered in the communal and political life or the nation from Main to California. ... Where in the 1920s Klansmen had banded together against Catholic and alien, now in the thirties they discovered Communism and, soon afterwards, the New Deal. Anti-Semitism was also on the rise. Then, in the mid-thirties, organized Labor pushed its way to the fore among the enemies of one-hundred-percent Americanism” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism). “To the Negro, Jew, Oriental, Roman Catholic, and alien, were added dope, bootlegging, graft, night clubs and road houses, violation of the Sabbath, unfair business dealings, sex, marital ‘goings-in,’ and scandalous behavior, as the proper concern of the one-hundred-per-cent American. The Klan organizer was told to find out what was worrying a community and to offer the Klan as a solution” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism). The elements of its program included “immigration restriction, Prohibition enforcement, opposition to American participation in the League of Nations and the World Court, tax relief, prohibition of interracial marriage, exclusion of Catholic teachers from public schools, the closing of parochial schools, and prohibition of property ownership by non-citizens” (MacClean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p. 16).

Consider the signs carried in a Klan parade in Texarkana: “Law and order must prevail.” “Cohabitation between whites and blacks must stop.” “Bootleggers, pimps, hangers-on get right or get out.” “Wife-beaters, family-deserters, home-wreckers, we have no room for you.” “Law violators, we are watching you; beware.” “We stand for old glory and 100% Americanism.” “We invite all 100% Americans to join us.”

The KKK claimed to be a Christian organization. It used the cross as its symbol and recited Romans 12 as part of its initiation rite. Its view of America was that of a Christian America. In 1925, the Grand Dragon of Georgia said, “The Constitution of the United States is based upon the Holy Bible and the Christian religion, and an attack upon the one is an attack upon the other. If Christianity is destroyed in America, how long would our Government endure?” A Klan manual stated, “The Klansman pins his faith to the Bible as the revealed will of God” (MacLean,
Behind the Mask of Chivalry, p, 93).

Large numbers of pastors were members of the KKK, mostly Baptist, Methodist, and Church of Christ. “Hundreds upon hundreds did join, and in some areas constituted a major portion of the local officialdom. Others left their flocks for the wider Klan calling as either organizers or speakers. Almost all of the national Klan lecturers were ministers. Usually the presence of a Klan in a town was announced by a Saturday night parade of hooded horsemen down Main Street, a cross blazing on a nearby hillside, or a sudden appearance in the midst of the Sunday service. Robed in white, masked, they would divided into three columns and march silently down the aisles congregating in front of the pulpit to present a purse of thirty-five or forty dollars to the minister. If their appearance was not completely unexpected or unwelcome, they might file into the front rows that had been left vacant, while the minister or one among them propounded the principles of the Klan and read from the Twelfth Chapter of Romans, calling upon them to present their bodies, through the Klan, as ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God.’ Or, having made the donation, they might march out again while the church choir sang ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ or ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism).

In its heyday, the revived Klan had considerable political power. In Georgia, Klansmen included the governor, the chief justice of the state supreme court, state attorney general, the mayor of Atlanta, district attorney of Fulton County, and a Fulton superior court judge. A city attorney said, “Everybody in the courthouse belonged to the Klan, virtually every judge, the prosecuting officers ... all the police and the mayor and the councilmen” (MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry). In 1923, at least 75 members of the House of Representatives “were said to owe their seats to the Klan” (MacLean). Anti-Klan governors were defeated in many states, including Oregon and Kansas.

The Klan promoted a wide variety of conspiracies based on false information and forgeries: Lincoln, McKinley, and Harding were assassinated by Catholic agents; the Knights of Columbus Oath is a pledge by Catholic laymen to “hang, burn, boil, flay, and bury alive” non-Catholics (it is a forgery); the pope had purchased high ground overlooking West Point and two canons on the grounds of Georgetown University pointed in the direction of Washington, signifying Rome’s plan to conquer America. The KKK used the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion to prove an international Jewish conspiracy to rule the world.

The Klan was opposed to the immigration that was changing the character of America. William Simmons (1880-1945), first Imperial Wizard of the renewed KKK, said, “What were the dangers which the white men saw threatening to crush and overwhelm Anglo-Saxon civilization? The dangers were in the tremendous influx of foreign immigration, tutored in alien dogmas and alien creeds, flowing in from all climes and slowly pushing the native-born white American population into the center of the country, there so be ultimately overwhelmed and smothered.”

The Klan was a big proponent of Prohibition. “In almost every state the Klan was a champion of the ‘noble experiment’ of Prohibition, and in areas, such as New Jersey and upstate New York, this was its greatest rallying cry” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism)

Probably the greatest strength of the Invisible Empire lay not in its creed but in its excitement and its in-group fraternalism. ... The lodge nature and the ritual of the Ku Klux Klan appealed to the joiner. Its mass initiations, masks and robes, parades, picnics, barbecues, and other ceremonies, its field days, and its midnight cross burnings enlivened the life of the American village. For the payment of ten dollars, the Klansman could become a member of the mysterious Invisible Empire, the masked protector of the virtue of white womanhood, and of one-hundred-per-cent Americanism. He could participate in the sacred ritual that connected him with millions of others in fraternity and mystic power” (Chalmers).

Much of the KKK vigilante activity was directed toward white men in punishment for adultery, wife beating, desertion of their families, gambling, bootlegging, theft, etc. In many places, the Klan and the local law enforcement were integrated toward this end. In Texas, there were an estimated 500 “tar-and-feather parties and whipping bees, plus other threats, assaults” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism). In Oklahoma “the usual victims were not Jews, Negroes, Roman Catholics, or aliens, but white native-born, Protestant citizens, women and youths as well as grown men.. ... While the police stood by, men were kidnapped from the streets of even the largest cities to be carted off and flogged. ... the Georgia Klan seldom directed its violence toward Jew, Roman Catholic, and Negro. They were objects of its semantics, but its direct action was visited primarily on its fellow white, native-born Protestants” (Chalmers). “In 1927 the Birmingham News guessed that scores, perhaps hundreds, had felt the lash over the past five years, mainly for possession of slot machines and sale or possession of liquor” (Chalmers). In 1927, for example, in Stephens County, Alabama, a white woman was whipped 61 times for “immorality and failure to go to church,” and her 15-year-old son was beaten when he tried to assist her. “The man who held her head and directed the floggings turned out to be the principal of the Stephens County High School, superintendent of the Baptist Sunday School, and moderator of the twenty Baptist churches of his association” (Chalmers, Hooded Americanism).

In the South, the revived KKK was involved in a lot of violence toward blacks. Following are some examples from one year: “All told, seventy-seven African Americans lost their lives to lynching in 1919. The victims included another black man named Will Brown, burned alive alongside his friend Jack Gordon in Washington, Georgia, on October 5. Gordon had allegedly shot a white deputy; this Will Brown helped him escape from jail. The mob also killed a third man, Moses Freeman, who had allegedly lied about Gordon and Brown’s whereabouts. By the standards of the era’s white supremacy, Freeman had committed a serious crime: he had obstructed a mob during its pursuit of rough justice. Many other lynching victims in 1919 lost their lives for similar transgressions against white supremacy. In April, a mob in Blakely, Georgia, beat black veteran Wilbur Little to death for ignoring warnings to stop wearing his military uniform. Another veteran and a female acquaintance lost their lives near Pickens, Mississippi, in May for allegedly writing an insulting note to a white woman. On August 1, two different Georgia mobs carried out lynchings: the first killed veteran Charles Kelly for failing to yield to a white driver; the second lynched Argie Robinson for refusing to address a white man as ‘Mister.’ A mob in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dismembered Cicero Cage for pulling a white woman off her horse. Yet another Georgia mob hanged an inebriated man for praising blacks’ armed resistance to mob attacks during Chicago’s riot” (Krugler, 1919, the Year of Racial Violence, p. 272).

The following instance from Ocoee, Florida, from 1920 illustrates how the revived Ku Klux Klan stopped blacks from voting: ”Two black landowners, Julius Perry and Mose Norman, led a campaign to register the town’s 500 black residents, drawing an ominous warning from the local Klan. Undeterred, both men, who had registered and paid the poll tax, arrived at the voting station, where they were told they were not eligible voters. Norman came back with a shotgun, only to be beaten and chased off. The Klan then dispersed throughout Ocoee, intent on lynching Norman and Perry and terrorizing black residents so that none would ever again try to vote. A mother and her baby were burned alive in their home. Perry and eight armed companions managed to hold a mob at bay, killing two, until the house was torched. Perry was arrested and jailed in Orlando, where a complicit sheriff allowed the Klan to lynch him. His desecrated corpse was dumped in Ocoee with a warning sign. By its end, the Klan’s pogrom had killed as many as fifty blacks” (Krugler, 1919, the Year of Racial Violence, p. 300).

Two cases from central Florida in the 1940s illustrate the terrible abuse that blacks in some parts of the South were still enduring in the mid-20th century. In 1943, 15-year-old Willie James Howard worked sweeping floors at Van Priest’s Dime Store in Live Oak. The intelligent, good-natured boy was nicknamed “Giddy Boy.” He made the very bad mistake of giving a Christmas card to a 15-year-old white cashier named Cynthia Goff. She informed her father, Phil, the local postmaster and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. Willie gave her another note on New Year’s Day, 1944, which stated that she was his choice for a sweetheart. On January 2, Goff and two other men kidnapped Willie from his home, dragging him from his mother’s arms at gunpoint, picked up Willie’s father, James, at the lumber company where he worked, and drove to the Suwannee River. We pick up the story here from Gilbert King, Devil in the Grove: “Inside the car, once the boy admitted that he’d written the letter to the girl, Goff and the two white men bound the fifteen-year-old’s hands and feet with rope. When James Howard tried to speak to his son, he was ordered, at gunpoint, to keep his mouth shut. The next order forced James Howard to remove his son from the car and stand him up several feet from the riverbank. With the boy in place, bound and now crying, Goff asked him if he understood ‘the penalty of his crime.’ Willie sobbed. ‘Yes, sir.’ By now, James Howard knew his boy would find no mercy in these woods, and finally permitted to speak, he said to his son, ‘Willie, I cannot do anything for you now. I’m glad I have belonged to the Church and prayed for you.’ Goff allowed the boy a last request, and Willie asked his father to take his wallet from his pocket. The postmaster lifted his gun and forced the boy to choose between a bullet and the Suwannee. Bawling and terrified of the gun, Willie staggered backward and toppled over the rock’s edge, into the river, where the deep, dark water swallowed him” (King, Devil in the Grove, p. 102). The three men presented an affidavit to the local sheriff that they only intended to warn the boy and that he had become hysterical and had jumped into the giver and committed suicide. The case never went to trial.

The following is another case based on Gilbert King’s shocking book
Devil in the Grove: In 1949, In Lake County, Florida, a 17-year-old white married girl, Norma Padgett, claimed that she was raped by four black men. In that time and place, any such claim was a death sentence for the black men concerned. The Democrat-elected, KKK-associated Sheriff Willis McCall went on the warpath even though the evidence consisted only of the girl’s testimony, and her reputation was less than sterling. The four men identified were Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd, and Walter Irvin. Thomas was chased into a swamp by a sheriff’s posse and riddled with bullets. Greenlee, Shepherd, and Irvin were arrested. A KKK mob burned homes and businesses in the black community in the Groveland area. After a series of severe beatings and threats against their lives, Greenlee and Shepherd confessed to the rape. At the trial, Padgett pointed her finger at each of them and testified that they were the ones who had raped her, though previously she had told people that she couldn’t recognize the men because it was dark. The all-white jury convicted them of rape and sentenced Shepherd and Irvin to the electric chair and Greenlee to life in prison on a chain gang. Greenlee had an irrefutable alibi that placed him away from the scene of the alleged rape. Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP took the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled for a new trial in 1951. In November, Sheriff McCall and his brutal racist deputy, Yates, picked up the two men from the Raiford State Prison to transport them to Tavares for the second trial. On the way, McCall drove down a dark country road, stopped and shot the men who were handcuffed together. He claimed that they tried to escape. When other men arrived to view the bodies, it was found that Irvin was still alive, so Yates shot him again in the neck. In spite of three bullet wounds, he survived to stand trial. Though the sheriff claimed that he shot both men when they were standing and attacking him, the bullet that was fired by Yates into Irvin’s neck was found by the FBI in the ground where he had been lying, which confirmed Irvin’s testimony. On Christmas night, 1951, unknown men dynamited the home of Harry T. Moore, executive director of the Florida NAACP, killing Moore and his wife. Previously they had been fired from their school teaching jobs because of Harry’s activism for equal pay for black public school teachers in Brevard County. Moore had been campaigning for justice for the Groveland boys. Flowers had to be shipped from Miami as local florists refused to deliver to “a Negro funeral.” A lengthy investigation concluded that the likely perpetrators were Ku Klux Klan members, though there was not enough evidence to try them. In the second trial for Irvin, he was again sentenced to death by an all-white jury. He had been offered a deal to plead guilty to rape in exchange for a life sentence, but he refused, saying he would not lie about the matter, which was evidence of his innocence. In 1955, his sentence was commuted to life by Gov. LeRoy Collins. In 1968, he was paroled, but he died the next year. He was found dead in his automobile in mysterious circumstances. The Groveland Four were pardoned by Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2019, and the Florida House of Representatives voted 117-0 to apologize to the families.

Republicans attempted to pass anti-lynching bills in the U.S. Congress, but they were resisted by Democrats. The first attempt was in 1918. “The bill never made it out of committee, however; the southern Democrats who still controlled Congress in 1918 had no intention of scheduling an antilynching bill for a vote” (Krugler,
1919, the Year of Racial Violence, p. 276).

Between 1910 and 1930, 1.2 million blacks migrated to northern cities, and between 1930 and 1970, the number was 5 million. It was called
the Great Migration (Eric Lincoln, The Black Church in the African American Experience).

At least 25
race riots occurred in 1919, 10 major ones. The national death toll exceeded 150. They were instigated by whites. The riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the worst. A mob of hundreds destroyed the Greenwood black community. Dozens of blacks were killed. More than 1,200 homes and businesses were burned to the ground.

By 1928, Klan membership had declined to several hundred thousand, but it was still influential in some parts of the South into the 1950s. For example in 1948, the Ku Klux Klan held five rallies in Lake County, Florida, to show support for Sheriff Willis McCall (who would become infamous the following year in the Groveland Boys case) and presidential candidate Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was running for a group of southern Democrats called the Dixiecrats. “[O]n the eve of the election 250 hooded Klansman formed a motorcade that snaked its way through Lake County, ‘warning blacks not to vote if they valued their lives.’ Trailing behind the motorcade in a big Oldsmobile, his trademark white Stetson visible to all, was the incumbent sheriff himself, ‘making no attempt to interfere’ when the Klansmen stopped to burn a cross in front of a black juke joint in Leesburg. The evening ended in a field just north of Lake Okahumpka, with Klan speeches and a barbecue. It may as well have been a celebration of what would prove by a landslide to have been the inevitable--the reelection of Willis V. McCall. ... McCall had attended meetings with Bogar at the Apopka Klavern of the Association of Georgia Klans, where many central Florida law enforcement officials were initiated into the Ku Klux Klan. As one reporter noted, it was impossible ‘to tell where the mob left off and law enforcement began” (Gilbert King, Devil in the Grove, pp. 83, 91).

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