The emergence of the UKA
The Ku Klux Klan and Resistance to School Desegregation
On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its historic decision on school desegregation -- Brown v. Board of Education. The decision triggered a wave of resistance to school desegregation throughout the South that ultimately led to a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan. In its initial stages, the resistance was headed by the "White Citizens Councils:" The Councils was largely composed of respectable citizens in local power structures throughout the South. Their main weapon was economic pressure directed against local individuals and organizations perceived as supporters of desegregation or insufficiently vocal in opposing it.
The Councils achieved considerable power and influence in the second half of the 1950s, generating an array of publications and spawning affiliated organizations that lasted well into the 1960s. But by the end of the decade, their resistance to court-ordered desegregation had become a losing battle.
Paralleling the efforts of the Councils were new Klan leaders with new campaigns. The Klan had no use for the Councils' less militant methods, and sought to mobilize like-minded believers into a resurgent Ku Klux Klan.
By mid-1956, a marked rise in Klan activity was well underway – new Klan groups were drawing strength from the ferment in the South. They gained members from extremist elements among the White Citizens Councils themselves. These organizing efforts succeeded in mobilizing former Klansmen who had been inactive for years.
The strongest of the new groups consisted of klaverns linked under the banner of the U.S. Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. (generally referred to as the "U.S. Klans"). This group was subsequently chartered and incorporated in the State of Georgia. The leader of the new group was Eldon Lee Edwards, a paint sprayer employed in an Atlanta auto factory. He had quietly begun organizing in 1953, had stepped up his activities in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, and had incorporated his new organization on October 24, 1955.
By September 29, 1956, Edwards was able to stage one of the largest Klan rallies in years, drawing a crowd of approximately 3,000 to Stone Mountain, Georgia, the site from which the Second Klan had been launched in 1915. The crowd came in more than 1,000 cars painted with KKK emblems and bearing license plates from seven states – Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and Louisiana.
At its peak in the late 1950s, Edwards' U.S. Klans had units in nine Southern states. However, the group was beset by internal feuding and challenges to the Edwards leadership. In addition, more than a score of smaller Klans emerged to compete with the Edwards organization.
Although the U.S. Klans remained the strongest of the Klan groups in the South during the second half of the 1950s, Edwards was never able to gain a dominant position, nor to unify the competing and fragmented Klan organizations.
The New Klan Resurgence and Violence
In the early 1960s, the Klans functioned as a clandestine movement that spearheaded the resistance to a national trend toward equality for all Americans. Like their predecessors, the `60s Klans employed terrorism and a form of guerrilla race warfare to carry out their purposes. The Klans and their allies were responsible for a major portion of the assaults, killings, bombings, floggings, and other acts of racial intimidation that swept the South in the first years of the 1960s. The Klans provided the organizational framework and the emotional stimulus necessary to incite members and nonmembers alike to violence and terror.
The year 1960 was marked by a sharp increase in Klan activities and by the consolidation of some of the previously splintered groups in seven states. The Klan resurgence was spurred by the historic sit-in movement launched at Greensboro, North Carolina on February 2, 1960, by young Black civil rights activists. A few weeks later, on the weekend of February 27-28, 1960, representatives of splintered Klan groups from seven Southern states met at the Henry Grady Hotel in Atlanta and formed a "National Klan Committee" to coordinate their activities. The Klans represented there had long been opposed to Edwards' U.S. Klans; in fact, this opposition was the chief bond among them.
They made a show of strength on March 26, 1960, by a coordinated series of cross burnings. Newspapers in the South reported that more than 1,000 fiery crosses were seen that day throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and other states.
Klan Strength Increases in the 1960s
By the end of 1960, Klan strength had increased noticeably. Total Klan membership was estimated at anywhere from 35,000 to 50,000. Edwards' U.S. Klans, dominant for the previous six years, remained the strongest and most cohesive of the increasingly consolidated Klan movements, with an estimated 15,000 to 23,000 members.
The loose confederation of splinter Klans used the banner of the UKA, under which each unit retained its autonomy. The central leadership operated on a rotating basis heading an estimated membership somewhat less than that of the U.S. Klans – possibly 10,000 to 15,000.
There were also a number of local groups in various parts of the South that were not affiliated with either the U.S. Klans or the UKA. Most important of these was the Alabama Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc., headed by Robert Shelton, who had been a leader of the Edwards Klan in Alabama until he was ousted by Edwards in the spring of 1960. By the end of 1960, Shelton had made rapid progress in absorbing local Klan klaverns, including many formerly affiliated with the U.S. Klans, and consolidating them into the Alabama Knights. The gains made by Shelton were further hastened by Edwards' death in August, 1960. Edwards was succeeded as Imperial Wizard of the U.S. Klans by Georgia Grand Dragon Robert L. "Wild Bill" Davidson, who declared at a Klan rally in November, 1960, that Klansmen would use buckshot if necessary to fight integration.
Davidson, however, was unable to control the internal feuding and battling that had followed Edwards' death. He and his successor as Georgia Grand Dragon, Calvin F Craig, resigned from the U.S. Klans and almost immediately formed a new Klan organization chartered by the Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia, under the name of the "Invisible Empire, United Klans, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan of America, Inc." The new group came to be known as the United Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. (UKA).
Robert Shelton Becomes a Dominant Figure in the Klan
Membership in the new UKA was immediately bolstered by a mass defection from the U.S. Klans within the state of Georgia. Whole klaverns around the state simply changed their designation from U.S. Klans to UKA. Davidson quit as Imperial Wizard in the spring of 1961; a few months later, at a meeting in Indian Springs, Georgia, on July 8, 1961, the UKA united with Shelton's Alabama Knights. Shelton emerged as the new Imperial Wizard of the UKA, with Calvin Craig as UKA Grand Dragon for Georgia.
From that point on, Shelton’s UKA became the dominant group in the KKK resurgence of the 1960s. With headquarters in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, it had members and supporters in nine states by the middle of 1965. Estimates at the time indicated that the UKA could probably count on active membership and sympathetic support from 26,000 to 33,000 throughout the South. That support included Klans directly affiliated with the UKA and some semiautonomous groupings in Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Virginia.
(As outlined in a speech by Robert Shelton on the weekend of August 7, 1976, at an Indiana UKA rally)
How many apply today?
1.) Promote Patriotism to God, Country and Flag and to support our armed forces all over the World.
2.) To restore the right of prayer to our public institutions including our schools where atheism is being taught and Christian prayers are forbidden.
3.) To give added support to all police agencies such as city, county, state and National Guard.
4.) To not give up the rights specified by the Constitution for each man to protect his own household.
5.) To guarantee the owners of hotels, restuarants, and motels the right to grant or refuse service on their own property to whomsoever they desire without the interference from a government agency.
6.) To remove all security risks from factories manufacturing defense materials.
7.) To expose traitors and communist front personalities regardless of their position in a community life. Whether it is in a pulpit, or in a school room or in a cultural organization or public life.
8.) To expose and clean the communist in general out of our educational system.
9.) To curb the mongrelizers who are using our school systems and governmental agencies to destroy the white race.
10.) To reinforce the sovereignty of state and local government.
11.) To defeat all politicians who practice the art of persecuting the white man to live up to the Negro vote.
12.) To purge the grafters and the tax thieves.
13.) To imprison all anarchists and traitors who participate in organized campaigns to burn cities and destroy our public properties and intuitions.
14.) To abolish the Federal Reserve Bank and restore a constitutional system for the coinage and distribution of money.
15.) To withdraw from the United Nations.
16.) To mobilize public sentiment behind the police department so they will not hesitate to shoot to kill any looters or anarchists caught destroying private or public property.
17.) To take the loafers off relief. If they won’t work send them to a work camp where they can serve humanity constructively by being compelled to produce.
18.) To outlaw all efforts to impose forced medication on the public by tampering with the pure water system.
19.) To compel organizations which meddle in political affairs while posing as educational groups to report to Congress or political committees. Typical examples of organizations which can thus be classified are National Council of Churches and NAACP.
20.) To stop all loans and financial business favors to nations and people who are furnishing materials to slaughter our armed forces.
21.) Continue to fight diplomatic recognition of Red China in relationship to the government of the United States.
22.) Restore the loyalty oath throughout the entire governmental and educational complex and require at stated times all individuals drawing money from the taxpayers to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
23.) To restore the sacred shrines, which have been captured by the Jews in Palestine, to international control compatible with the faith of those concerned.
24.) To outlaw the usurpation of legislative power which is now practiced by the Supreme Court?
25.) To outlaw privately financed gestapo agencies which conspire to deny other citizens their proven personal liberties. The most scandalous example in the Anti-Defamation League which operates at great expense a highly financed gestapo for the purpose of harassing anyone who dares speak critically of the Jewish policies.
26.) To rededicate ourselves to the great principles which define Americanism involving Christian tradition, racial self-respect, private enterprise, constitutional government and the sovereignty of the individual, the local government and the government of the United States.
These words are the ones that should carry us into the 7th Era. True words spoken by a GIANT of our Order.
RIP Your Lordship Shelton