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Confronting the Past in the Quest for an Antiracist Future

Updated: Nov 10, 2022

By Kayla Boland, Community Engagement Manager at IHM

In this first official segment of our “Confronting the Past” series, we examine the Ku Klux Klan’s activity in Issaquah. Beginning with a brief history of the terrorist group, we then discuss their arrival in town. We comb through publicized meetings in The Issaquah Press, including where they were held. Then, we examine the July 1924 Super Rally, which marked the peak of local enthusiasm for the KKK’s extremist mission and ideology, highlighted both in Press articles and other primary documents in our collection. Read the series overview here.

This segment closes with a discussion of anti-Black sentiment in Issaquah’s earlier days, acknowledging that countless stories remain unknown due to systemic erasure. We also touch on the fact that those scars have not disappeared in the 21st century, although this is an ongoing conversation. Immediately following is a list of resources and recommended reading in the interest of educating ourselves and to aid in our collective quest for an antiracist future.

A Brief History of the KKK

The express motivation behind forming the Ku Klux Klan in 1865 was the hatred of Black people and the fervent desire to maintain white supremacy. It was a mass lashing out against the abolition of slavery; the first leader of the extremist group was a Confederate General named Nathan Bedford Forrest. The group was dedicated to extreme violence and legal-political subterfuge. They faced very few consequences, as white people from all classes—significantly judges, lawyers, and police officers—often either belonged to the KKK or chose to turn a blind eye.

In 1871, the Ku Klux Klan Act was passed, which ruled their acts—such as preventing an individual from holding office or depriving them from equal protection under the law—a federal offense. However, the Act did not stop the reassertion of white supremacy over the South. By about 1915, a new wave of KKK members swept the country—this time not only anti-Black, but also anti-foreigner, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, and anti-organized labor. They arrived in Issaquah in the 1920s, the decade of peak support for the hate group.

Read the full blog post below.

Full KKK Article for Blog
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