Racism is when one ethnic group discriminates against someone who isn’t apart of the same ethnicity, and tries to eliminate, belittle, or oppress them because they believe that every race has their own special characteristics, and if you’re not apart of that specific ethnic group then you lack those characteristics, and you’re not capable of undertaking certain conditions that the ethnic group can undertake. Due to the fact that you’re different. The state of Indiana just as many other states in the U.
S has a history of racism occurring throughout cities and small towns within the states. This shouldn’t be a huge surprise to U.S citizens because, racism in the West has been occurring since the modern period, and to this day there is still no evidence found to reveal racism existing before the Middle Ages. Indiana is just one of the many states that have been influenced, or affected by this term ” racism.
” The Ku Klux Klan also known as the KKK has played a huge role in contributing to keep racism alive in U.S for many years, and one of the states that actually has history with the Klan is Indiana. Introduction: The Ku Klux Klan was founded December 24,1865 in Pulaski, TN. The KKK has been recognized throughout history for being a “vehicle for white southerners resistance to the state republican party’s reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks.”(citation) The KKK didn’t only target blacks they also went after other minorities, people with certain religious belief, nationalities and lifestyles. The KKK was a very violent hatred group they bombed black schools,churches, burned crosses, had rallies, parades/marches denouncing immigrants. The KKK violence was mainly targeted at black and white activist in the southern states.
The KKK went as far as to create underground operation of intimidation of violence to white and black republican leaders. They extended into almost every southern state 1870. (CITATION) Indiana already had its own racial history alone without the KKK contributing.
Indiana has two constitutions the first was adopted in 1816. This constitution stated that “only white men citizens over the age 21 who lived in Indiana for one year could vote.” The constitution provided free public education through the college level, and slavery in Indiana was prohibited with the exceptions to slaveholders who lived in Indiana prior to the constitution.” As I mentioned previously racism occurs everywhere throughout the U.S rather if it’s intentional, or unintentional it still happens, and plays a huge role in the American culture. To what extent did the KKK influence racism in Indiana? I’m not suggesting Indiana didn’t have any racism or racist events occurring before what historians refer to as “The Golden Era of Indiana”(1900-1941) as the event that “left a stain on Indiana’s early 20th century history was the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920’s”, but what I’m questioning is rather the Ku Klux Klan made things worse, or were things already as bad as it could be before the KKK. To answer this question this essay will examine and compare and contrast life before the Klan in Indiana, life with the Klan, and also racial events occuring in and Indiana because of the Klan’s influence. I’m personally interested in this topic because, Indiana is my home town, and getting know or understand the history of the place I call home is important to me as someone who still lives in Indiana, and is apart and supports the Indiana community.
This topic is not only significant to me because I’m from Indiana but it is also significant because it explains how the KKK influence racism, and may have causes a lot of changes and information on why things are the way they are in Indiana.This also helps me gain knowledge on how the KKK took action in many other states especially the southern states since that’s where this group spent most of their time. This information help me understand how the KKK navigated, and worked to opress various minorities and religions.
INVESTIGATION Life in Indiana Before the KlanLife before the Indiana Klan during the 1850’s-1860’s was reconstruction time for Indiana. Indiana was in so much debt due to the building the canal system which caused the state to not be able to support a public school system, and the civil war also made an impact on the state of Indiana which helped lead up to the Reconstruction Era. This was the beginning of when doors began to open for blacks, they began to question where the black community stood in the entire country. The freed black population grew tremendously during the reconstruction era which caused various arguments on if they should be able to vote or not. This sparked lots of debates throughout the entire country everyone either strongly agreed or strongly disagreed. The 15th amendment was the most difficult to get passed. The passing of the 15th amendment in Indiana was not put to use immediately after freed blacks were still not able to vote in state, and freed blacks outside of the state weren’t allowed to enter. All of this came to an end in 1881 and “blacks gained full equality in voting and the only remaining discrimination in the Indiana constitution at the time was the clause that prevented Blacks from taking part in the state militia.
“(CITATION) During this time there was very little evidence of the Klan existing and due to the research and sources that I’ve found as I mentioned previously door began to open for blacks, and slaves were set free which cause the population of blacks to grow, and since it was so many blacks they begin to question where blacks stood in the community for example if they would be allowed to work? Just and overall are blacks equal to us can they do or should they be allowed and given the same opportunities as whites? Which these were still major issues that, but it was definitely gradual process. The finally when the 15th amendment passed there was a lot of disagreements but from that point on there was nothing but change and opportunities waiting for blacks. This was the start of a new chapter for Indiana, of course everyone wasn’t on board with this new idea of blacks actually being apart of the community but it showed that evidently some of the community didn’t mind it, and it was going to take some time, but it helped show that things could actually change after all.Racial Events Influenced by Klan in Indiana”On November 18th in the year of 1978 the largest murder-suicide in modern history took place. More than nine hundred men, women, and children died. The people of the People’s Temple a once small Christian church committed what Jones termed as “Revolutionary Suicide” at Jonestown Guyana by drinking cyanide-laced flavor-aid.” This horrible incident occurred because, of Reverend Jim Jones ideology which was strongly influenced by the Klan.
The Ku Klux Klan was already established in the Midwest as a major force, this did nothing but create even more racism and racial tension in Indiana. As we know the Southern Klan is known for its violence and hate for African Americans throughout history, from the lynchings and murders to just plain harassment. The Klan had a strong belief that African Americans could not contribute to Americanism and that were just totally incapable of understanding the American culture. Since African Americans weren’t looked at as equal to whites they threatened whites superiority and authority. The midwest Klan was less violent than before they weren’t less racist just not as harmful. (CITATION) As I mentioned previously African Americans were on the road to change in Indiana just before the Klan arrived, but things were still being questioned on where blacks stand in the community since they weren’t looked as human. The Klan going to Indiana obviously had a huge impact on the state. Since the 15th amendment was already set in stone, and blacks were allowed to vote, and had been voting before the Klan arrived it wasn’t much they could do about it because, as I mentioned before not everyone agreed with the 15th amendment including the Klan.
Which caused a lot of their actions since the Klan didn’t believe or see blacks as equals to them, and they were threatened by blacks they began to take action on trying to put a stop to this no matter what it would take. It seemed as if since the Klan couldn’t get there way with certain things and blacks were becoming more and more equal gaining rights and etc there was only way to try to continue to oppress them, and that was physically. Which is why the Southern Klan was considered “less violent” but not less racist while the Midwest Klan being super violent and even more racist. This obviously didn’t just affect the blacks but also others like the men, women, and children in the Revolutionary Suicide.
Reverend Jim Jones ideology was influenced by the Klan, and he lead other people to be influenced by the Klan too. He did this by using his job position being a reverend people tend to look up to him or believe in everything he says without knowing all of the facts behind everything they automatically believed in him because, he supposed to guide people and bring them closer to their religion, and just help them make good decisions guide them on the right path. He took advantage of the people who looked up to him to fulfill his own personal duties or beliefs.Indiana Klan LifeHistorians have found evidence of being a “good upstanding hoosier meant joining the klan” not only that some people were kind of forced to have a relationship, or seen it as they didn’t have any other choice but to be on good terms with the klan because being on good terms with the klan meant you would receive help politically and business wise. This made the Indiana Klan the largest klan organization in the country.
This shows that the Ku Klux Klan made an impact on racism in Indiana due to the fact that to be considered a good hoosier meant joining the klan. This shows that people had no choice but to be apart of the klan or to support it because, they needed help politically or business wise. If you weren’t supportive of the Klan than you wouldn’t be treated fairly, or receive the same help as someone who did support the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was an on and off organization that appeared and disappeared throughout American history. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 and the members of the klan was basically “recently defeated members of confederate army” which explains the reason the Klan was created which was to reach their main goal which was to get revenge, or take back what they believed belonged to them which was the south.
The former confederate army members were paranoid that the Federal Reconstruction Era of the south was just a strategy used to help blacks take over the south. They also wanted chase the away the white “carpetbaggers” which were whites that moved to the south during the Reconstruction Era hoping to gain financial and political benefits. The Klan influenced certain parts of Indiana more than others for example Martinsville, Indiana.
Also known as the “sundown town” has a history of being an “alleged Ku Klux Klan stronghold in the 1920s”(citation) This town was known for not allowing or accepting outsiders in especially African American outsiders. There was one incident with a young black women by the name Carol Jenkins who was going door to door to sell encyclopedias, and she was stabbed to death in the chest with a screwdriver in 1968. (CITATION) Her murder had been a mystery for a long time, and many people developed or created many different theories about what happened to her. Most of these theories were referencing back to the fact that Martinsville, Indiana is a town made up of white close-minded people that weren’t open to accepting diversity. Also due to the fact that the Ku Klux Klan played a major role in their community.
In 2002 the mystery of Carol Jenkins death finally came to an end because, the daughter of the murderer came forward, and confessed to seeing her father Kenneth C. Richmond kill Jenkins in 1968. (CITATIONS) The daughter and father were both white, and weren’t actually from Martinsville, Indiana. Richmond had a background of having “bizarre behavior” also associated with Ku Klux Klan.
Richmond had passed away from cancer before he went to trial for the murder of Jenkins. (citation) Which is the main incident that gave Martinsville, Indiana it’s reputation as being a racist town even though there were many other incidents that occurred. At this point I believe it’s okay to say the Ku Klux Klan had a major influence on racism in Indiana from the Revolutionary Suicide to the being treated unfairly due to not supporting the Klan, and finally to the murder case in Martinsville, Indiana. Seems as people had no choice but to join the Klan or at least be supportive of it in Indiana because without that you would be treated horrible. This shows how the Klan maneuvered or worked around the circumstances they were in to make sure they kept their reputation and got people on board with their beliefs.
Indiana was already racist before the Klan arrived but the Klan coming made an even greater impact on life in Indiana overall because, things changed tremendously. Supporting the Klan in Indiana became a way of life and there was no other way around it until later on in time. The information I found from my research definitely answers my question “To what extent did the KKK influence racism in Indiana?” The Ku Klux Klan influenced racism in Indiana quite and bit it seemed as if blacks Indiana were on the road to success, and the Klan seen that and were threatened by this success, and used numerous tactics to oppress them, and push them back to where they started.Significance of Essay The significance of examining racism occurring in Indiana, and asking the question “To what extent did the KKK influence racism in Indiana?” is important or is valuable because, it shows why Indiana is the way it is now and how it has changed tremendously over time it tells us why certain little towns are the way they are in Indiana, and how racism is shown now. Instead racism in Indiana isn’t out in the open, but built into the society. Which is kind of what the KKK’s intentions was when they said you either support the Klan or suffer. This shows how this major hate group appears and disappears throughout history, and adapts what I mean by adapt is . It appearing in Indiana is significant because, it marks a time in Indiana where racism was basically a very important factor in being a hoosier.
It shows how this hate group made a huge impact on the entire Indiana community as a whole. Conclusion:In conclusion,Bibliography”Jonestown, Indiana.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown,_Indiana.
Norris, Michele. “Indiana Town: From Racist Past to Primary Present.” NPR, NPR, 30 Apr. 2008.Fischer, Jordan. “The History of Hate in Indiana: How the Ku Klux Klan took over Indiana’s halls of power.” RTV6, 13 Aug.
2017.”The Development of Modern Indiana (1865 – 1900).” INdiana History, indianahistorylol.weebly.
com/the-development-of-modern-indiana-1865—1900.html. “Header.” ISL: Ku Klux Klan in Indiana.Wilkinson, Jr. William Clayton. “Indiana University.” Indiana Magazine of History, scholarworks.
iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/12251/18209.”Jonestown and the Ku Klux Klan: Race in Indiana and Its Influence on Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.” Alternative Considerations of Jonestown Peoples Temple, jonestown.sdsu.
edu/?page_id=61472.”The Racial History of Gary, Indiana, and the Need for Restrictive Covenants.” American Renaissance, 14 Sept.
2012.History.com Staff. “Ku Klux Klan.
” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009.The Ku Klux Klan, essay.ua-referat.com/The_Ku_Klux_Klan. “Debunking a claim about Democrats and founding of the KKK.” @Politifact.”History of Gary Indiana.” History of Gary Indiana – Asdnyi.