KKK in North Dakota part 2
Friday, August 31, 2012
If you tuned in yesterday, you learned that the Ku Klux Klan had a significant presence in our state. F. Halsey Ambrose, a Presbyterian minister, mobilized his masses to discriminate, especially against Catholics and members of the Nonpartisan League.
People in the North Dakota group were not usually violent, but since they weren’t a group on the fringe of society, it meant they could boast other kinds of power. In 1924, their membership and strength were growing, and the Klan was active in civic politics. They campaigned for candidates who were in the KKK or sympathetic towards it. In the 1924 Grand Forks city election, a Klan candidate won a seat on the five-person city commission, and another Klan member defeated the incumbent city justice who was a Roman Catholic.
Three weeks later there was a school board election between two Klan businessmen and two women. This election was so divisive that it brought out hundreds of people who rallied for and against both sides. The Reverend Ambrose called the Catholic women candidates the “scum of the Earth” and “unworthy of the name of woman.” The Grand Forks Herald endorsed the Catholic women, but the Klansmen won the election. They used their victory to reinstitute bible-reading in schools.
Later, the Klan purged City Hall of many Catholic employees who had worked there for years. After this, many members felt that they had accomplished their goals in North Dakota. Others were disillusioned with the hateful ideas, and support for the Klan died down.
But the ideas that the Reverend Ambrose spread did not die easily. A source within the Klan said the Klan leaders included prominent members of the business community, including three bankers, three insurance men, seven store owners, two hotel proprietors, three lawyers, one doctor, one architect, and one other clergyman in addition to Ambrose.
The national KKK still exists today. It even has a website. The message has changed a little to sound more appealing in our modern times, claiming to bring a message of … quote … “love, not hate, to the white modern family.”
Dakota Datebook written by Leewana Thomas
Ku Klux Klan in North Dakota records (http://webapp.und.edu/dept/library/Collections/og598.html)
North Dakota Studies, The Ku Klux Klan: and Investigative Report (http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/the_ku_klux_klan_in_north_dakota_investigative_report)