Black Journalists Note the Klan's Hatred for Other Groups

Although formed as a violent reaction against Black enfranchisement during Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan also supported nativism, anti-Catholicism, and antisemitism. When the second Klan emerged on Stone Mountain in 1915, the rebirthed organization formally adopted these tenets.[1] Stone Mountain at that time was nothing more than a mammoth block of granite, but it had already been envisioned as the site of a future Confederate monument and so came to serve as a driver of Klan organizing. Black reporters were keenly aware that they were not alone in being targeted by the Klan’s hatred. They frequently reminded their readers of the scope of the Klan’s hostilities, painting the Klan as a fringe hate group that threatened wide swathes of US society.

In 1920, the New York Age noted the Klan’s membership requirements as follows: “[It is stated that] no one not born in the United States is eligible to membership and that no Catholic or Jew can become a member,” before adding “this is a discreditable reflection on native Americans and a badge of distinction for Catholics and Jews.”[2]

In a different tone, the Detroit Tribune wrote in October of 1945, “Organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan, which set out deliberately to stir up hatred against Negro Americans, under the guise of white supremacy, will not stop there, but will become bolder with success and eventually direct sinister campaigns against other minority groups, including Jews, foreigners, and Catholics.”[3] They pointed out that the Klan’s agenda was not limited to white supremacy and anti-Blackness, but embraced other forms of racism, as well. They also urged the national government to act: “The world wants peace,” they declared, “but the peace is not helped by fanatics of any race who boast their superiority and believe in treading roughshod over the rights of other human beings.”[4]

A regular contributor to the Weekly Review of Birmingham, Bernice Scarr, also responded to the activities on Stone Mountain and noted the Klan’s wide range of targets. She commented in her 1945 editorial that the Ku Klux Klan is still a “real danger to Negroes, Catholics, Jews and labor,” before adding that “While the terrorism, lynching, beating, and Ku Klux murders of the 1930’s in South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia, particularly, still darken our memories, the same group plans to renew its brutal attacks upon minority, racial, and labor groups.”[5]

Eleven months later, the Weekly Review republished a piece by C. W. Rice, editor of Negro Labor News. Revisiting the moment of the Klan’s revitalization on Stone Mountain, he struck a note of optimism, proposing that “the Klan is up against the toughest job since it was formed in the ‘Carpet-Bagger’ days, reorganized in 1915 then launched its attack on Catholics, Jews, and Negroes.”[6] He noted that Black people were defying the Klan, recounting “the last time the Klan marched in Negro section [sic] in Atlanta, a Negro walked up and pulled the pillowcase off one of the Klansmen’s head[s] and put it on his head and entertained other Negroes during the parade. This is a fair example of how much the Negro is excited over the Klansmen.”[7] Black
journalists built networks of solidarity with other marginalized groups by reaffirming their common foe in the Klan.

Justin Seward


Bigart, Homer. “99 Years of Ku Klux Klan: It All Started Innocently…,” Tampa Bay Times, March 28, 1965, 60.

Detroit Tribune. “The Klan Girds Again,” October 27, 1945. New York Age. “Ku Klux Klan Missionaries,” October 30, 1920.

Rice, C.W. “No Fear of KKK,” Weekly Review, December 8, 1945.

Scarr, Bernice. “Ku Klux Klan Still Is Real Danger to Negroes Catholics Jews and Labor,” Weekly Review, January 6, 1945.

  1. Bigart, “99 Years of Ku Klux Klan: It All Started Innocently…,”
    60. ↩︎

  2. New York Age, “Ku Klux Klan Missionaries.” ↩︎

  3. Detroit Tribune, “The Klan Girds Again.” ↩︎

  4. Detroit Tribune, “The Klan Girds Again.” ↩︎

  5. Scarr, “Ku Klux Klan Still Is Real Danger to Negroes Catholics
    Jews and Labor.” ↩︎

  6. Rice, “No Fear of KKK” (December 8, 1945) ↩︎

  7. Rice, “No Fear of KKK” (December 8, 1945) ↩︎