Learn about the ancient origin and contemporary usage of many symbols associated with the Ku Klux Klan in this video from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Klansville U.S.A. Many of the Klan’s symbols are far older than the KKK’s founding, and have origin stories unrelated to the Klan or even to race. For example, the white robes and pointed hats worn by the KKK to intimidate others resemble the capirotes that Spanish penitents have worn during Holy Week since the 1400s. For the penitents, the masks hide sinners’ identities, and the pointed hoods reach them closer to heaven. The burning cross, which entered into Klan tradition in 1915, was used 400 years earlier by Scottish clansmen as a call to arms. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.
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