Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy

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The Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy was a Klan faction led by Asa Carter in the late 1950s. Despite the group's brief lifespan, it left its mark with a violent record, including an assault on Nat King Cole, participation in a riot in Clinton, Tennessee, and one of the few documented cases of Klan castration.

Origins[edit]

The group began as the North Alabama Citizens Council, which broke away from the Citizens Councils of America in October 1955. The new organization was based in Birmingham, while the mainstream group was headquartered in Montgomery and led by State Senator Sam Englehart. The split apparently centered around the Birmingham group's embrace of antisemitism and exclusion of Jews from membership, while the Montgomery faction professed no other aim than the defense of segregation. Carter also insisted that "the mountain people – the real redneck – is our strength".[1][2]

Rock music and Cole Assault[edit]

The group had a particular disdain for black music and rock'n'roll, campaigning for boycotts of black singers and the removal of rock'n'roll records from local juke boxes.[3] A sign outside Carters office proclaimed "Be-bop promotes Communism".[4] On April 10, 1956 seven members of the group assaulted Nat King Cole while he was singing to a white audience at the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham.[5] The assault was supposed to be part of a much larger attack involving one hundred members who were supposed to overpower the band and the police, but only seven showed up.[6] On April 18, four of the assailants were sentenced to 180 days in jail and a $100 fine, the maximum for their assault charge, and three others were fined for conspiracy and weapons charges.[7]

Clinton, Tennessee[edit]

Also that April, Adm. John Crommelin, introduced Carter to John Kasper who set up an affiliate of the NACC in Washington, D.C.[8] that June called the Seabord White Citizens Council.[9] In August and September 1956, both groups converged on Clinton, Tennessee, to prevent the court ordered integration of Clinton High School. Kasper was arrested on August 27 for inciting a riot and vagrancy, but released the next day for lack of evidence. The local school board then petitioned Federal Judge Robert Love Taylor to issue a restraining order against him for interfering with school integration.[10] The order was served to him while he was in the middle of a speech on the courthouse lawn. After being served, Kasper went on with his speech, telling the audience of about 1,000 people that the injunction did not matter. He was promptly arrested for violating the order.[11][12][13] he was found guilty, but held over for an appeal. While a judge mulled whether or not to grant Kasper bail, Asa Carter arrived on the scene and the crowds he gathered grew to a reported 1,500. On September 1–2, full scale riots broke out, with mobs attacking black motorists, shots being fired at the court house, and a dynamite blast in the black section of nearby Oliver Springs. The small police department deputized a posse "home guard" which used tear gas to disperse the crowds. Governor Frank G. Clement sent in the National Guard and Tennessee Highway Patrol to restore order.[14] Bail was granted on a $10,000 bond with an injunction that Carter cease his activities.[15][16] Nevertheless, later that month Kasper addressed a gathering of the North Alabama Citizens Council, welcoming robed Klansmen and stating "We need all the rabble-rousers we can get, We want trouble, and we want it everywhere we can get it." He also called for "roving bands of patriots" to descend on any city threatened with integration.[17] Carter and his group went to Clinton in September 1957.[18][19]

Reorganization and Aaron castration[edit]

In November 1956, the Northern Alabama Citizens Council was replaced by the Original Ku Klux Klan of the Confederacy. Thirty-five Klansmen were initiated in a ceremony in Birmingham on Nov. 15 before a bonfire of skulls where they pledged to "fight the enemies of Jesus Christ to the bitter end and after". The new organization was organized along military lines, being divided into "squads and platoons with areas of responsibility" and Nazi-style brownshirt uniforms.[20] The group was incorporated in Birmingham the next month.[21] On 27 December 1956, during the Montgomery bus boycott, Carter announced plans to send in troops of "Minutemen" to patrol city buses to enforce segregation.[22] In January 1957 Carter and four of his fathers were arrested for a shoot out that occurred between different members of the group after one member, J. P. Tillery, made accusations about administrative and financial irregularities.[23][24] At the time of the shooting the group had less than 100 members.[25]

The group's most infamous attack came on September 2, 1957. In a move to counter attempts by the Rev. F.L. Shuttlesworth to desegregate Birmingham schools[26] six members of the group abducted Judge Edward Aaron from Birmingham and took him to their "lair"—a small dirt-floor house outside of Clarkesville, Alabama. There, by the glow of lamplight they performed a castration on him. The event was supervised by Exalted Cyclops Joe Pritchett, wearing a red-trimmed Klan robe. The scrotum was preserved as a souvenir, while turpentine was poured on Aaron's wounds.[27] Aaron was left for dead on the side of the road until a motorist found him and drove him to a local hospital. Joe Pritchett was found guilty of the crime and sentenced to 20 years in prison on October 31. The jury only took 40 minutes to deliberate the case. Judge Alta King gave him the maximum penalty, 20 years in prison. The judge stated the offense was one of the worst crimes he had encountered in his 35 years of experience.[28] Klabee Jesse Mabry, who had participated in the assault on Nat King Cole; Bart Floyd, who was the one who actually performed the castration in order to become a captain within the group; and Grover McCullough drew identical sentences. William Miller, another recently appointed captain, and John Griffin, who stood guard outside the shack and did not know the details of what happened until after the fact, turned state's evidence and got terms of probation.[29] Those sentenced to jail exhausted their appeals and began their prison terms in 1959. In 1960 the parole board ruled that they would have to serve one third of their sentence – six years and eight months – before they could be considered for parole. However, the inmates began receiving preferential treatment after George Wallace became governor, and the parole boards decision was reversed in July 1963, after Wallace had made his first appointment to the board. Mabry was released in February 1964, and the others in 1965.[30]

The organization itself dissolved sometime in early 1958. Asa Carter went on to become a speechwriter for George Wallace.[31]

Publications[edit]

  • The Southerner: News of the Citizens' Council. Birmingham, Alabama. Ran from February 1956 to at least October 1956.[32][33]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael and Judy Ann Newton eds. The Ku Klux Klan: An Encyclopedia Garland Reference Library of the Social Science Vol.499, London and New York; Garland Publishing. 1991 p. 100
  2. ^ Wayne Phillips (March 6, 1956). "White councils split in Alabama". The New York Times, p. 24.
  3. ^ Segregationist wants ban on 'rock and roll'. (1956, Mar 30). New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 27. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113509785?accountid=5683
  4. ^ Newton & Newton p.100
  5. ^ By The, A. P. (1956, Apr 11). Alabamans attack 'King' Cole on stage. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113872978?accountid=5683
  6. ^ Special to The New York Times. (1956, Apr 12). "Negroes driven from Texas cafe". New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 34. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113633102?accountid=5683
  7. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1956, Apr 19). "Four get 6 months in King Cole attack. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113852143?accountid=5683
  8. ^ Newton & Newton p.100
  9. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1956, Sep 05). Hearing delayed on kasper bond. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113734162?accountid=5683
  10. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1956, Sep 05). Hearing delayed on kasper bond. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 13. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113734162?accountid=5683
  11. ^ Newton & Newton p.119
  12. ^ Kasper gets hearing in tenn. jail sentence. (1956, Sep 06). The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959), p. 25. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/148855819?accountid=5683
  13. ^ "Clinton Desegregation Crisis". (2012) in Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, Retrieved July 3, 2012, from Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture: http://www.tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entry.php?rec=279
  14. ^ Mobs mass in new Tennessee flareup. (1956, Sep 05). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), p. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/166992286?accountid=5683
  15. ^ Special to The New,York Times. (1956, Sep 07). Clinton agitator wins bail order. New York Times (1923-Current File), p. 12. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/113753194?accountid=5683
  16. ^ Vigilantes break-up unruly segregation mob. (1956, Sep 02). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), p. 1. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/167000048?accountid=5683
  17. ^ Newton & Newton p.100
  18. ^ Newton & Newton p.100, 120
  19. ^ Forster, Arnold. Epstein, Benjamin R. Report on the Ku Klux Klan New York: Anti-defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1965 pp.16-18
  20. ^ Newton & Newton pp.100, 445
  21. ^ Alabama Council on Human Relations Alabama Council Newsletter Vol. 3 #1 p.3
  22. ^ Newton & Newton pp.100, 400
  23. ^ Special to The Christian,Science Monitor. (1957, Feb 05). Alabama curbs violence. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File), pp. 6. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/509570594?accountid=5683
  24. ^ Newton & Newton pp.100
  25. ^ Alabama Council on Human Relations Alabama Council Newsletter Vol. 3 #1 p.3
  26. ^ National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form The Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama, 1933-1979 [p.33]
  27. ^ Forster & Epstein p.20
  28. ^ Forster & Epstein p.20
  29. ^ Gets 20 years in castration of a negro, 33. (1957, Nov 01). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963), pp. B2-b2. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/180271407?accountid=5683
  30. ^ Newton & Newton p.1
  31. ^ Newton & Newton pp.100, 445
  32. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/southerner-news-of-the-citizens-council/oclc/17268614&referer=brief_results
  33. ^ http://aubiecat.auburn.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=294891