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'Ku Klux Kiddies': The KKK's Little-Known Youth Movement

January 8, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

In 1924, a group of ten children and hundreds of spectators gathered for a mass baptism. This was no mere religious rite. As the children and their parents moved toward the clergyman, they were enveloped by 50 men in white robes.

They were the children of the Ku Klux Klan, and their baptism included more than a promise to God. Along with their vows to raise religious children, their parents dedicated their children to “the principles and ideals of Americanism.” To an outsider, that promise might sound like a patriotic one. But to the KKK, it meant dedicating the children to a lifetime upholding segregation, bigotry, and the violent suppression of anyone who was not a white Protestant.

A 7-month-old baby being baptized into the Ku Klux Klan in Long Island, NY in 1927.

The children who were christened that day were just a few of the thousands who participated in the KKK and its auxiliary organizations: the Junior Ku Klux Klan for teenage boys, the Tri-K-Klub for teenage girls, and “Ku Klux Kiddies” and “cradle clubs” for children and infants beginning in the 1920s. As the “Invisible Empire” of the KKK reached its pinnacle of national influence and membership during that era, children became part of the secretive society, and entire families dedicated themselves to promoting and sustaining the group’s white supremacist ideology.

Unlike many fraternal organizations, the KKK invited, and encouraged, the involvement of women and children as part of its attempt to create a core of true believers who would ensure the supposed purity of the white race. After the release of the film Birth of a Nation in 1915, the Ku Klux Klan movement was revived and grew to encompass up to 8 million Klansmen by the 1920s. Members wanted to keep American society “pure” and free of the supposed taint of anyone who was not white and Protestant—and they believed the best way to achieve that goal was to involve the entire family.

READ MORE: How ‘The Birth of a Nation’ Revived the Ku Klux Klan

Women played an important role in the KKK, which formed around a mission of “protecting” white women from sexual relationships and contact with black men, Catholics and Jews. Elizabeth Tyler and Edward Young Clarke, PR professionals who took over the day-to-day operations of the KKK in the early 1920s, saw the potential of Klansmen’s …read more

Source: HISTORY

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