Learn about the formation of the Ku Klux Klan in the aftermath of the Civil War in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Klansville U.S.A. The Ku Klux Klan, which took its name from the Greek word for circle, “kuklos,” formed in 1865 in Tennessee as a social club of decommissioned confederate officers. Posing in costumes as confederate officers come back from the dead, Klan members terrorized freed slaves. Over the next six years, their acts became increasingly violent, including throwing people off bridges and hanging others from trees. In 1871, the federal government clamped down on the Klan, which dissolved and lay dormant for decades. (Footage from the 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation, is featured at the beginning of this video. Actors of European descent appear in “blackface,” a practice in which actors paint their faces a darker shade in order to portray African Americans.) This resource is part of the American Experience collection. Note: This video includes an illustration of a lynching (a man hanging from a tree).
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