October 31, 2018
An organization called the Ku Klux Klan (the KKK) has cast a menacing shadow over the United States since December of 1854. The forming of the group was stimulated by the loss of the Civil War the South suffered. It was created by six Confederate veterans from Pulaski, Tennessee.
Following the Civil War, and during the Reconstruction of the South, the KKK emerged to suppress and victimize newly freed slaves. The Klan is now recognized as the United States’ first terrorist group. Most commonly, the group was responsible for executing many young black males on trumped-up charges of assaulting white women, burning houses of abolitionists, and the use of intimidation tactics to silence sympathizers.
Many people were upset with the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 (“that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward shall be free”) and the organization served as a type of solution.
James W. Loewen was an American sociologist, someone who studies the development, structure, and functioning of human society. He characterized a “sundown town” as one where a black person or a minority would not want to be found after dark. He claimed that there were about 500 towns in Indiana that could be classified as a sundown town.
Martinsville has been at the forefront of racial profiling since the murder of a young black woman, Carol Jenkins. In a twist of fate, thirty years later, the murderer was finally identified and found as a Florida resident.
Many mistake Martinsville as the birthplace of the KKK, but this is not the case. While it is true that in the distant past, Morgan County did have a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan present in the area, it has never been the main hotbed of Klan activity.
The United States has come a long way in the fight for equality. Unfortunately, racial tensions still exist everywhere today. Progress, however, is definitely being made as a recent KKK “kookout” was held in Madison, Indiana, which was attended by only thirteen Klan members, while over 300 people appeared to protest. That is a sure sign that Indiana, as well as the nation, is moving in the right direction.