“To be Part of Somethin’”—The Ku Klux Klan and Its Appeal to Working Class North Carolinians During the 1960s

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2017-05-14

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Korstad, Robert R

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Abstract

Despite adamant resistance from Southerners in Congress, 1964 saw the passage of a comprehensive Civil Rights Act. One of the key components of the Act was a section that mandated equal employment opportunity in the private sector. Among the white working class, this provision was perceived as an imminent threat to their economic livelihoods. The resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan during the Civil Rights Era was a backlash against an upheaval in the racial status quo, particularly in North Carolina, which had the most Klan-affiliate members out of any state in the union during the 1960s. This project explores the motivations for working class whites, most of whom had not belonged to any subversive organization previously, to join the Klan. On the basis of analysis of historical documents, this thesis suggests that the threat to their economic livelihood and a feeling of not being heard or seen by the federal government was a prime motivator, and as the Klan presented itself as an alternative means for political, social, and economic organization, membership surged.

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Laird, Lucy (2017). “To be Part of Somethin’”—The Ku Klux Klan and Its Appeal to Working Class North Carolinians During the 1960s. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/14343.


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