Author John Marr takes a dark look at a holiday tradition of “good old all-American chaos” on 10 Zen Monkeys:
Founding of the Ku Klux Klan, Atlanta, 1915: At 35, failed preacher William Simmons had found his true calling as a fraternal lodge leader. In addition to commanding five regiments of the Woodmen, he was a heavy in several Masonic orders and a Knight Templar.
But his dream was to have his own personal fraternal organization. And he wanted more than funny hats and secret handshakes — he wanted to revive the Ku Klux Klan. His dream came to fruition Thanksgiving Eve when 40 handpicked men gathered to re-launch the Klan. A group of 15 stalwarts recessed to the top of nearby Stone Mountain for an early morning cross-burning. Simmons tied his first recruitment drive in with D.W. Griffith’s famous film The Birth of a Nation, which opened in Atlanta the following week. And the rest, as they say, is history.
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