Women of the Ku Klux Klan2021-02-18T12:56:55-05:00

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Women of the Ku Klux Klan

A manifesto published by the Women of the Ku Klux Klan.

Content Warning: This resource contains hate speech. 

America for Americans: Creed of Klanswomen

Women of the Ku Klux Klan, America for Americans: creed of Klanswomen / as interpreted by the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, [192-?]. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Summary

CREED OF KLANSWOMEN This document outlines the beliefs of the members of the Women’s Ku Klux Klan. (“We” refers to members of the WKKK.)
WE BELIEVE in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of Jesus Christ, and the eternal tenets of the Christian religion as practiced by enlightened Protestant churches. We believe in the Christianity, as defined by Protestant churches.
WE BELIEVE that church and state should continue separate in administration and organization, although united in mission and purpose to serve mankind unselfishly. We believe in the division of church and state, but also believe both church and state have the same goal: to serve mankind.
WE BELIEVE in the American home as the foundation upon which rests secure the American Republic, the future of its institutions and the liberties of its citizens. We believe the home is the foundation of American society.
WE BELIEVE in the mission of emancipated womanhood, freed from the shackles of old-world traditions, and standing unafraid in the full effulgence of equality and enlightenment. We believe women should be free of old-world traditions.
WE BELIEVE in the equality of men and women in political, religious, fraternal, civic, and social affairs wherein there should be no distinction of sex. We believe women and men are equal in political, religious, and social areas.
WE BELIEVE in the free public schools where are children are trained in the principles and ideals that make America the greatest of all nations.
We believe public schools are important. Public schools teach students the ideals that make America great.
WE BELIEVE the Stars and Stripes the most beautiful flag on earth, symbolizing the purity of race, the blood of martyrs, and the fidelity of patriots. We believe that the American flag is the most beautiful flag on earth. The American flag represents white supremacy and the sacrifices made by patriots.
WE BELIEVE in the supremacy of the Constitution of the United States and the several states, and consecrate ourselves to its preservation against all enemies at home and abroad. We believe that the United States Constitution and state constitutions define the laws of the land.
WE BELIEVE that the freedom of speech, of press and of worship is an inalienable right of all citizens whose allegiance and loyalty to our country are unquestioned. We believe that all citizens who are loyal to America have the right to freedoms of speech, press, and worship.
WE BELIEVE that principle comes before party, that justice should be firm but impartial, and that partisanship must yield to intelligent cooperation. We believe principals are more important than political parties. Justice should be based on principles, not political party. Political parties should cooperate.
WE BELIEVE that the current of pure American blood must be kept uncontaminated by mongrel strains and protected from racial pollution. We believe that American blood must be kept pure. American must avoid racial pollution.
WE BELIEVE that the government of the United States must be kept inviolate from the control or domination of alien races and the baleful influence of inferior peoples. We believe that neither immigrants nor people of inferior races should be allowed to control the government.
WE BELIEVE that the people are greater than any foreign power or potentate, prince or prelate, and that no other allegiance in American should be tolerated. We believe that the American people are the greatest people on earth. They should only be loyal to America. They should not be loyal to foreign governments, leaders, or religions.
WE BELIEVE that the perpetuity of our nation rests upon the solidarity and purity of our native-born, white, Gentile, Protestant men and women.
We believe that the success of America is based upon racial purity. Only men and women who are native-born, white, not Jewish, and Protestant are pure.
WE BELIEVE that under God, the Women of the Ku Klux Klan is a militant body of American free-women by whom these principals shall be maintained, our racial purity preserved, our homes and children protected, our happiness insured, and the prosperity of our community, our state and our nation guaranteed against usurpation, disloyalty and selfish exploitation. We believe that the Women of the Ku Klux Klan will uphold these beliefs and the nation’s racial purity. Members work to protect homes and children, maintain happiness, and make America prosperous.

Women of the Ku Klux Klan, America for Americans: creed of Klanswomen / as interpreted by the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, [192-?]. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

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Background

The definition of what it meant to be an American was contested in the 1920s. While many embraced an increasingly modern and urban America, others saw this as a threat. Conservatives believed immigrants, African Americans, and other minority groups threatened what they perceived as traditional American values. Amid this growing fear, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was reborn. The KKK of the 1870s was a vigilante group in the Jim Crow South. The KKK of the 1920s was a highly publicized organization with ties to politics and the media. 

Women played a significant part in the KKK’s resurgence. At least 500,000 women across all forty-eight states joined the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) after its formation in 1923. The WKKK operated like a social club. Members planned picnics, conventions, and “Americanism” pageants. The KKK relied on such events to recruit new members and spread their belief in a “pure” America.

The WKKK pursued its own vision of modernity, including modern American womanhood. This made the WKKK an organization of contradictions. Members upheld traditional roles as wives and mothers. At the same time, they advocated women’s emancipation and equality. They embraced women’s voting rights, encouraged economic independence, and discussed birth control. But they also hated immigrants, African Americans, Jews, Catholics, bootleggers, and others whom they felt contributed to the disorder and decline of American society. Although the WKKK did not participate in lynchings and other violent acts by the KKK, it certainly supported them. 

About the Document

The KKK and WKKK spread their message through radio, printed materials, and other forms of media. Membership grew quickly, and many nonmembers bought into the Klan’s hateful rhetoric. This document is representative of materials produced by the WKKK. It outlines the beliefs of Klanswomen, and seeks to frame their hatred of others as positive and pro-American.  

Vocabulary

  • creed: A set of beliefs, often religious.
  • Klanswoman: A member of the Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK).
  • Ku Klux Klan (KKK): A national organization that promoted an America made up entirely of white, Protestant, native-born Americans. Inspired by the KKK of the 1870s, which was a secret organization focused on terrorizing Black citizens in the post-Civil War South.
  • lynching: The illegal execution of a person by a mob.
  • pageant: A play or performance, often tied to displays of patriotism.
  • vigilante: A group of individuals who take it upon themselves to enforce the law without legal authority.
  • Women of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKK): The women’s branch of the Ku Klux Klan.

Discussion Questions

  • Who are the members of the WKKK? What are their goals? 
  • How would you summarize the beliefs of Klanswomen? How do they justify these hateful opinions? 
  • How does religion factor into the WKKK’s beliefs? 
  • Who does the WKKK view as the enemy? What and who do they fear? 
  • Based on this document, how do WKKK members view immigrants? African Americans? 
  • What does the author mean when they describe “emancipated women”? 
  • The WKKK’s headquarters were in the South, but the organization had members in every state. Why is this significant? 
  • What does this document tell you about America in the 1920s? What was life like for non-white, non-Protestant Americans? 
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Themes

POWER AND POLITICS; AMERICAN IDENTITY AND CITIZENSHIP

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