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CHAPTER II. ORGANIZATIONS COMPRISING THE
MODERN KLAN MOVEMENT
The fluidity which has characterized the klan movement since the breakup of Simmons' monolithic invisible empire in 1944 has contin. ued to the present day.
During the reign of Simmons and his successors, to be a klansman meant membership in the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Today a klansman may be enrolled in any one of more than 15 different klan organizations in the United States.
The constant organization and disbandment of klans could still be observed during 1966. Although all such groups cling to similar white supremacist objectives, no one klan leader has emerged since 1944 with the ability to bring all klansmen together in a single organization. A number of reasons may be advanced for this multiplicity of klans.
Klan leaders seem to be in perpetual disagreement over the disposition of funds which begin flowing into klan coffers with the collection of the klansman's initiation fee. The rivalry among present-day klan leaders for their "fair share” of the financial rewards accruing from klan operations was demonstrated in the testimony and documentation introduced during the committee's public hearings on ku klux klan organizations in the winter of 1965-66.
An equally important factor in the splintering of klans has been the aspirations for power and authority on the part of erstwhile klan leaders. Disputes over the privilege of commanding a hierarchy of lower officers and an army of rank-and-file klansmen have proved irreconcilable.
When klan leaders publicly insist that their own organization is the only true descendant of the Simmons' klan and argue with other klan officers over "territorial” jurisdiction, it is apparent that they are attempting to disguise more basic differences involving money, power, or a third common cause of dissension—the tactical line to be taken by a klan in exploiting current issues.
The history of the movement since 1944 shows that klan groups have little disagreement over the issues they exploit for their own growth and enrichment. Judical edicts and legislative enactments promoting constitutional rights, as well as the activities of private groups and individuals with similar objectives, have been seized upon by klan leaders as "issues" on which to campaign and grow. Klan resurgence as a reaction to the Supreme Court decision in 1954 on the subject of public school segregation has already been noted. Ten years later, klan leaders were similarly exploiting and thriving on issues arising from the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Contributing to continued divisions within the klan movement, however, was the failure of klan leaders to agree on a common course of action in response to klan-selected issues. The determination of courses of action inevitably involved decisions with respect to the de
gree of militancy a klan group should display in its public or covert activity.
At the conclusion of the committee's public hearings on klan organizations in February 1966, 15 independent klans were in existence. They possessed in common certain ritualistic ceremonies, robes, and variations on the oath and constitution of the Simmons' Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. But they operated under separate sets of leaders and exhibited different degrees of militancy in their modus operandi. They also varied greatly in size and influence.
All but two of the i5 organizations have been active less than 10 years. The two exceptions—the U.S. Klans and Association of South Carolina Klans-have dwindled to relatively minor positions in the klan movement. The 15 klans active in the United States early in 1966 were
Association of Arkansas Klans;
Improved Order of the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Florida);
White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (Mississippi). It should be noted that, after the close of the committee's public hearings in February 1966, three separate groups splintered away from the United Klans of America and began operating as independent klans, while the aforementioned Mississippi Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for all practical purposes ceased to exist upon the death of its founder and leader. The newest klans are
(1) The Knights of the Green Forest, a small, militant group of ex-members of the United Klans of America's Realm of Mississippi who left that organization allegedly because of financial irregularities on the part of United Klans leaders in that State.
(2) The Maryland Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, also known as the Interstate Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, organized mainly through the efforts of Xavier Edwards, a former kleagle (organizer) for the United Klans of America in Maryland. Edwards' group left the parent organization when certain leaders of the Maryland Realm of the United Klans criticized Edwards for open association with and recruitment of members of the American Nazi Party into the Maryland klan.
(3) The Universal Klans of America, also referred to as The South, led by the United Klans former grand dragon for Louisiana, Jack Helm, and principally composed of former southern provinces of the Louisiana Realm of the United Klans.
This chapter will briefly examine each of the 15 klans in existence in February 1966 with respect to their formation, location, leadership, and the geographical distribution of the klaverns in which rankand-file members meet. The committee also offers membership figures which it emphasizes are only estimates. They represent the committee's best judgment of active and continuing klan membership, without reference to the klans' own inflated membership claims.
In arriving at membership estimates, the committee relied chiefly on field investigators' reports and analyses of bank records. With respect to the latter source of information, the committee would like to observe that, from the very beginning of its investigation, it had subpenaed records of bank accounts maintained by klan organizations on National, State, and klavern levels. From these sources. the committee continued to obtain information even after the close of its public investigative hearings in February 1966. These records. which included microfilmed copies of debit and credit items, enabled the investigative staff to identify many of the klan leaders as well as sources of income and recipients of funds.
For example, the committee determined that the main bank account of the United Klans of America was maintained in Tuscaloosa, Ala., under the cover name, “Alabama Rescue Service.” The records of this account reflected, among other things, per capita dues of 50 cents a month from local klaverns to national klan headquarters.
Checks and money orders passing through such accounts in many instances identified not only officers of a klavern but also the official name and number of the klavern and the cover name behind which it sought to conceal its activity. In this sense, the bank records were an invaluable supplement to reports from investigators conducting on-the-spot investigations. Payments of per capita taxes by local klaverns were useful in supplementing investigative information regarding klavern membership. It was also possible to observe fluctuations in rank-andfile membership within a given State by the study of these records.
A total of 714 klaverns (local units of a klan) were found to be operative within the period 1964–1966. The figure includes 56 ladies auxiliaries, which were affiliated with the United Klans of America and located for the most part in the State of North Carolina. The committee estimates that a total of 16,810 individuals belonged to various klan organizations early in 1967, excluding ladies auxiliaries. Tabulations indicating the klan affiliation and geographical distribution of these klaverns and klansmen appear on pages 145–163 of this chapter.
Klan membership fluctuates according to the issues of the day as well as the seasons of the year. Membership swings up in the summer and down in the winter. The figure of 16,810 is nevertheless believed to be accurate as of January 1967, based on the klaverns which the committee has been able to identify. The committee does not assume that it has succeeded in identifying all local units of every existing klan organization, but its errors of omission are estimated to be less than 10 percent. In issuing such figures, the committee has attempted to provide an approximate idea of the strength and scope of organized klan activity in the United States in recent years.
1 The tax was increased from 25 cents to 50 cents in September 1964, although it was not effective nationally until May 1965.
U.S. KLANS, KNIGHTS OF THE Ku Klux Klan, INC. The U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., continued to operate in 1966, even though this once powerful organization was reduced to a single klavern with a steadily dwindling membership.
Its headquarters is located at 1121, Harvard Avenue in College Park, Ga., not far from Atlanta. It utilizes post office box 253 in College Park for mailing purposes.?
The preeminent role enjoyed by the U.S. Klans in the 1950's until the death of its imperial wizard, Eldon L. Edwards, in August 1960, has been described in the preceding chapter. The internal wrangling which broke out after the death of Edwards led to the splintering away of most of the U.S. Klans original membership. Actually, however, the first cracks in the U.S. Klans empire had appeared while Edwards was still in command.
When Jack and Harry Brown, leaders of the U.S. Klans in Tennessee, were expelled from the organization in 1957, they proceeded to organize the Dixie Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. They took with them several whole klaverns in the Chattanooga area, several in northwestern Georgia, and several in the area of Anniston, Ala. Also in 1957, Edwards was having trouble with his grand dragon in Alabama, Robert M. Shelton, who today is the imperial wizard of the United Klans of America. Edwards found it necessary to replace Shelton as grand dragon after a dispute over the manner in which Shelton was reporting funds from the Alabama Realm. Shelton was reinstated, only to be dismissed once again by Edwards. Shelton retaliated this time by taking out incorporation papers in May of 1960 for a new organization known as the Alabama Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Shelton took most of the Alabama membership of the U.S. Klans into this new klan.
As previously noted, Robert “Wild Bill” Davidson was elected as Eldon Edwards' successor later in 1960, in spite of efforts by Edwards widow to install E. E. George in the imperial wizardship. The continued internal dissension led to the announcement by Davidson and his Georgia Grand Dragon, Calvin Craig, on February 18, 1961, that they were resigning from the U.S. Klans. On February 21, a new organization known as the Invisible Empire, United Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America, Inc., was formed by the DavidsonCraig faction. A large portion of the membership of the Georgia Realm of the U.S. Klans went over to the new organization.
E. E. George succeeded Davidson as imperial wizard of the U.S. Klans and remained in that position until October 1963, when the U.S. Klans suffered another major split in its ranks.
On October 26, 1963, Imperial Wizard George received notification that H. J. Jones, exalted cyclops of Klavern 297 in College Park, Ga., had called a klonvokation at which Jones was elected to the imperial wizardship of the U.S. Klans. Charges within the klan that George had misused klan funds and had failed to promote the interests of the organization, allegedly prompted this action.
2 The U.S. Klans petition for a charter, granted by the State of Georgia on Oct. 24, 1955, is reproduced as an exhibit on p. 174 of the appendix to this report. The original incorporators were Eldon L. Edwards, the late M. Wesley Morgan, and William A. Daniel, Sr., more recently a member and official of the United Kians of America in the State of Georgia.
3 See pp. 11ff.
Following this notification, George and his followers in the U.S. Klans left the organization and formed a new klan known as the Improved Order of the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan,
All of the then existing klaverns of the U.S. Klans, with the exception of Klavern 297 in College Park, Ga., followed George into his new organization.
Since that time the entire U.S. Klans has consisted of that single klavern. The membership was approximately 50 as of January 1967 and still dwindling.
Finances are small and meetings are held at irregular intervals. Committee investigation established, nevertheless, that certain members of the U.S. Řlans attended demolition and guerrilla warfaretype training sponsored by another klan organization on October 17, 1964, at Stockbridge, Ga.
The U.S. Klans has on several occasions sent representatives to meet with the National Association of Ku Klux Klan, headed by James R. Venable. It should be noted that no current members or officers of the U.S. Klans were subpenaed as witnesses in the committee's recent hearings on klan organizations.
UNITED KLANS OF AMERICA, KNIGHTS OF THE Ku Klux KLAN, INC.
The origin of this presently most powerful of klan organizations as a splinter from the U.S. Klans has already been noted. When Imperial Wizard Robert "Wild Bill” Davidson and Georgia Grand Dragon Calvin F. Craig resigned from the U.S. Klans in February 1961, they were almost immediately heralded as holding the same exalted offices in a new klan.
The Superior Court of Fulton County, Ga., on February 21, 1961, issued a charter to the new organization in the name of the Invisible Empire, United Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America, Inc. Although the organization is commonly known as the United Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. (UKA), the name as it appeared on the charter has never been officially changed. The annual registration statement filed by the klan with the State of Georgia in November 1964 uses the title in the charter.
The original incorporators of the UKA were Robert Day, George Sligh, William A Daniel
, Sr., and M. Wesley Morgan, all ex-members of the U.S. Klans in Georgia.
Membership in this new organization was immediately bolstered by a mass defection, within the State of Georgia, from the U.S. Klans. Whole klaverns, not only in the Atlanta area where the klan had the strongest concentration of membership at that time but also in outlying areas in Georgia, simply changed their designation from U.S. Klans to UKA.
Davidson remained as imperial wizard until approximately April 1, 1961. He allegedly left the organization because of some disagreement over UKA participation in klan demonstrations against integration of the State university at Athens, Ga.
UKA membership was confined to Georgia in the spring of 1961 and its headquarters was located in Atlanta. There were indications that negotiations were then being conducted between the Georgia
* Reproduced on p. 177 of the appendix.