32 Chilling Images of the Ku Klux Klan and Their Children

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The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is the name of three different right-wing extremist movements in the United States that have advocated extremist positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration, anti-Catholicism, and anti-Semitism. Historically, the KKK used terrorism against groups or individuals whom they opposed. The movements called for the ‘purification’ of American society.

The first Klan came to be in the Southern United States in the late 1960s. This Klan sought to overthrow the Republican state governments in the South during the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War by using violence against African American leaders. The KKK was suppressed around 1871 through federal law enforcement.

The second coming of the KKK came in 1915 and spread nation-wide in the early and mid-1920s. This Klan was rooted in local Protestant communities and opposed Catholics and Jews. This edition stressed its opposition to the Catholic Church during a time of high immigration from mostly Catholic nations of southern and eastern Europe. This organization adopted the white costume and started burning crosses and parading as intimidation.

The third and current incarnation of the KKK emerged after 1950 and they focused on opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, often using violence and murder to suppress activists. It is classified as a hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Klan currently has between 3,000-6,000 members.

A mother looks on as her seven-month-old child is baptized into the Klan. Long Island, New York. July 4, 1927. Bettmann: Getty Images
Two children — in the original caption, labeled as mascots of the Ku Klux Klan — stand with the Grand Dragon. Atlanta, Georgia. July 1948. Library of Congress
A young girl in robes drinks a Coca-Cola while she and her mother watch a Ku Klux Klan rally. Location unspecified. August 1925. Library of Congress
A child is initiated into the Ku Klux Klan. Macon, Georgia. January 1946. Keystone-France: Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
A group of Klan members lead their children through a parade. Location unspecified. Circa 1912-1930. All that is Interesting
Shelby Pendergraft, 15, and Charity Pendergraft, 17, attend a cross lighting ceremony at the Christian Revival Center. Bergman, Arkansas. 2008. Barcroft USA: Getty Images
This unidentified Klan woman gets her son dressed up in KKK robes and hat. Getty Image
A young girl holds her father’s hand as he marches down the street in a Klan parade. Atlanta, Georgia. June 5, 1967. Bettmann: Getty Images
A group of women, one holding her child in Klan robes, are among the 125 people who showed up to be initiated into the Klan. Atlanta, Georgia. June 1949. Bettmann: Getty Images
Seven-year-old Perry Blevens sticks his head out the car window, showing off the sign that calls for no integration. Gwinett County, Georgia. April 14, 1956. Bettmann: Getty Images
A mother and her child hold hands as they watch a cross burn. Georgia. April 27, 1956, Bettmann: Getty Images
A young girl clutches her doll in one hand as her father wraps his arm around her and her brother. Port St. Lucie, Florida. Date unspecified. Evan Hurd:Sygma:Sygma via Getty Images
Ku Klux Klan members parade past the U.S. Treasury building in Washington, D.C. in 1925. AP Photo
Louisiana KKK leader David Duke and his wife Choe arrive at the Destrehan, La., High School where they placed flowers near the flag pole, Oct. 9, 1974. A 13-year-old boy died following racial unrest and a shooting at the school. AP Photo
Unit of the KKK, as they appeared on the auditorium stage of the Bargaintown, New Jersey, Klavern to welcome 6,000 South Jersey Klansmen to the annual rally held Sept. 21, 1929. Senator J. Thomas Helfin of Alabama was the principal speaker. Flashback