Black Legion (political movement)
The Black Legion was a far-right political organization that splintered from the Ku Klux Klan and operated in the United States in the 1930s. The organization was founded by William Shepard in east central Ohio. The group's total membership, estimated between 20,000 and 30,000, was centered in Detroit, Michigan, though the Legion was also highly active in Ohio and one of its self-described leaders, Virgil "Bert" Effinger, lived and worked in Lima, Ohio.
The Associated Press described the organization on May 31, 1936, as
- a group of loosely federated night-riding bands operating in several States without central discipline or common purpose beyond the enforcement by lash and pistol of individual leaders' notions of "Americanism."
The death of WPA worker Charles Poole, kidnapped and murdered in southwest Detroit, caused authorities to finally arrest and successfully try and convict a group of twelve men affiliated with the Legion, thereby ending its reign of terror.
- A film based on the movement called Black Legion was released in 1937 by Warner Brothers and starred Humphrey Bogart.
- The April 1, 1937 episode of True Detective Mysteries, a radio show based on the magazine of the same title, was based directly on the Black Legion and the murder of Poole.
- The March 20, 1938, episode of the radio show The Shadow, with Orson Welles in the title role, was entitled "The White Legion"; it was based loosely on the Black Legion movement.
- The Legion is mentioned as being active in Lansing, Michigan during the 1920s and 1930s in The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
- The Sydney Morning Herald, May 25th, 1936, page 1: http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/27993123?searchTerm=ritual%20murder%20austria&searchLimits=l-textSearchScope=*ignore*%7C*ignore*%7C%7C%7Cl-word=*ignore*%7C*ignore*
- FBI FOIA page on the Black Legion
- The Murder that Brought Down the Black Legion
- The black legion rides George Morris 1903-
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