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It established Klanwatch in 1981 to monitor white supremacist activities throughout the United States.

Together, SPLC attorneys and Klanwatch investigators have won a number of major legal battles against Klan members for crimes they committed.

Now, of course, I turn on my television set and see people in Klan robes or military uniforms again handing out hate literature on the town square. This report was produced by the Southern Poverty Law center’s Klanwatch Project.

I read in my newspaper of crosses again burned in folks’ yards, and it seems as if we are back in the Sixties. The SPLC is a private, nonprofit, public interest organization located in Montgomery, Alabama.

Despite their peculiarities, they all share the deep-seated hatred and resentment that has given life to the Klan and terrorized minorities and Jews in this country for more than a century.

The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history — in the late 19th century, in the 1920s, and during the 1950s and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others, I saw the Ku Klux Klan as an all-too visible power in many of the places we went to organize voter registration and protest segregation.

The story begins, really, on the frontier, where successive generations of Americans learned hard lessons about survival.Today, it seems incredible that an organization so violent, so opposed to the American principles of justice and equality, could twice in the nation’s history have held such power.How did the Ku Klux Klan — one of the nation’s first terrorist groups — so instantly seize the South in the aftermath of the Civil War? How could it have risen so rapidly to power in the 1920s and then so rapidly have lost that power?The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear, and black people, Jews and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control us, to keep things as they had been in the South through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim Crow. As we prepare for the 21st century, we need to prepare for the continued presence of the Klan.This fear of the Klan was very real because, for a long time, the Klan had the power of Southern society on its side. It is a tribute to our laws that the Klan gradually was unmasked and its illegal activities checked. Unfortunately, malice and bigotry aren’t limited by dates on a calendar.

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