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It estimates the Klan has about 190 chapters nationally with no more than 6,000 members total, which would be a mere shadow of its estimated 2 million to 5 million members in the 1920s.
“The idea of unifying the Klan like it was in the ’20s is a persistent dream of the Klan, but it’s not happening,” Potok said.
And leaders say membership has gone up at the twilight of President Barack Obama’s second term in office, though few would provide numbers.
Membership dwindled, a unified group fractured, and one-time members went to prison for a string of murderous attacks against blacks.“That does not mean it is some benign group that does not engage in political violence,” he added.Historian David Cunningham, author of “Klansville, U. A.: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights-Era Ku Klux Klan,” notes that while the Klan generally doesn’t openly advocate violence, “I do think we have the sort of ‘other’ model of violence, which is creating a culture that supports the commission of violence in the name of these ideas.” Klan leaders told the AP that most of today’s groups remain small and operate independently, kept apart by disagreements over such issues as whether to associate with neo-Nazis, hold public rallies or wear the KKK’s trademark robes in colors other than white.Hundreds of people were assaulted or killed within the span of a few years as whites tried to regain control of the defeated Confederacy.
Congress effectively outlawed the Klan in 1871, leading to martial law in some places and thousands of arrests, and the group died.
As it marks 150 years of existence, the Klan is trying to reshape itself for a new era.