Events

The 1920s KKK in Oregon and America's Right-wing Populist Tradition | Linda Gordon Lecture
Monday, November 20, 2017 - 3:00pm
The 1920s KKK in Oregon and America's Right-wing Populist Tradition | Linda Gordon Lecture


MONDAY November 20th | 3pm

Urban Center (URBN) 
Parsons Gallery 
RM 212

 

 

A new Ku Klux Klan arose in the early 1920s, a less violent but equally poisonous descendant of the terrorist Klan begun in the 1870s South. This “second Klan” flourished above the Mason-Dixon Line by targeting Catholics, Jews and people of color as a threat to America’s destiny. Oregon and Portland in particular were Klan strongholds, and Oregon was the only state in which the Klan succeeded in outlawing Catholic schools (although courts overturned this legislation). The 1924 immigration control law enacted the Klan’s racial hierarchy by setting very low quotas on immigrants of “undesirable” ethnicities. 
Klannish bigotry has deep roots in America, sometimes as an undercurrent, sometimes exploding publicly and angrily. Klan membership in the 1920s was not only respectable but even conferred prestige, offering an entrée into the “middle class” for many members. Understanding how it drew in millions of followers in the 1920s may offer some insight into today’s white nationalism.

Linda Gordon is a professor of history and a University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. Two of her books—The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (Harvard University Press, 1999) and the biography, Dorothea Lange: A Life beyond Limits (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009)—won the Bancroft Prize for best book on US history. Her most recent book isThe Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition (Liveright | W.W. Norton & Company, 2017).