There is a lot of talk and concern about the president-elect’s connection to and associations with the Ku Klux Klan. I find that interesting because, if true, why are you alarmed because America has had many presidents that were owners and I would dare say all but a few were bigoted and racist. Whether the incoming president is racist is open for debate. However, the optics of what he had said and done strongly would suggest the answer is yes; so, why the shock and disbelief? America by its very nature is racist, and I would argue that most white folks are, to be honest.
There have been active KKK members on the Supreme Court as well as in all position in government and captains of industry. Don’t be shocked to know that at least five U.S. Presidents were members of the Ku Klux Klan. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the KKK started in the summer of 1866 when six ex-Confederate officers decided to organize a social club. They decided to use the term “kuklos,” which means circle. After adding the word Klan, the name Ku Klux Klan was born.
In his book, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White,” David Barton details the political history of the KKK; noting that the original targets of the Klan were Republicans, both black and white, and that between 1882 and 1964, 3,446 blacks and 1,297 whites were lynched by the Klan.
Barton goes on to point out that the Klan has its roots in the Democratic Party and that the first grand wizard of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was honored for his leadership at the 1868 Democratic National Convention. For those who do not believe that the roots of the Democratic Party are racist, one only needs to note that not a single Democrat voted for the 14th Amendment which granted citizenship to former slaves.
Barton went on to say, “Although it is relatively unreported today, historical documents are unequivocal that the Klan was established by the Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party. In fact, a 13-volume set of congressional investigations from 1872 conclusively and irrefutably documented that fact.” To be clear, the Democrats of the 1860’s were more like what the Republicans are today. The following are the presidents that were active and known Ku Klux Klan members:
President William McKinley
The first U.S. President who was a KKK member was William McKinley, who was a former Union officer, according to kkk.org. Not much is known about his involvement with the Klan, but many union men joined the KKK during its First Era during the Radical Republican’s anti-white Reconstruction Era.
President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the second U.S. President to be a KKK member. According to Nick Ragone’s book, “Presidents’ Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Extraordinary Executives, Colorful Campaigns, and White House Oddities,” Wilson was known as a virulent racist and actually helped Klan membership skyrocket by providing screenings of The Clansman and Birth of a Nation for members of his Cabinet, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Wilson’s ideology helped pave the intellectual foundation of the campaigns of racist Dixiecrats Strom Thurmond and George Wallace. Wilson is also credited with allowing Washington D.C. to become Jim Crow territory. He also never shied away from speaking publicly about the ‘benefits’ of segregation.
President Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding was the next president who was a KKK member. According to kkk.org and the book The Fiery Cross, Harding was actually sworn in at a KKK ceremony that was held at the White House by Imperial Wizard Colonel Simmons. Harding was not the only president to allow Klan activities to be held on White House grounds. Calvin Coolidge was a well known and active Klan member who allowed cross lightings on the Capital steps and also reviewed the giant Klan parades of 1925 and 1926 that were held in Washington D.C.
President Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman is the final U.S. President to have ties to the KKK that are known and documented. While he was not a prominent member, he did pay dues to the organization between 1920 and 1922. He eventually parted ways with the Klan due to their disapproval of his appointment of Roman Catholics to key political positions.
During the time that these Presidents were in office between 1882 and 1964, David Barton reports that 4,743 people were lynched. It was Republicans who led an effort to pass federal anti-lynching legislation, but Democrats were able to successfully ban those bills. History of the Democratic Party on their website conveniently leaves out party history from 1848 to 1900, avoiding publication of information related to the party’s racist roots. Understanding the past is a vital part of not repeating mistakes in the future, and black people deserve to know that the party that many of them affiliate with actually has its roots in one of America’s most noted hate groups.
The new guy is not the problem, all he wants is the money; the problem is those people he puts around him! I have quoted Dr. Woodson many times where he noted that no matter who the president is black people will never get more than what they always got. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…
Most of this information was derived from an article posted on “I love black people.