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Community Conversations: “The Invisible Empire in Eugene and at the UO: The Rise and Fall of 1920s Ku Klux Klan”

 

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Why did the Ku Klux Klan gain its greatest strength in the states of Oregon, Oklahoma, and Indian during the second “era” of the Invisible Empire in the late 1910s and 1920s? Was the power of the 1920s Oregon KKK a cultural aberration or a cultural continuity? Did the 1920s Oregon KKK contradict the state’s Progressive heritage—women’s rights, labor laws, direct democracy—OR did it embody longstanding currents of thought and action—Native American conquest/colonization/removal/ethnocide; black exclusion laws; enforcement of Chinese Exclusion Act; and anti-Catholicism? Was the Oregon KKK responding to national trends or local conditions? Who joined the KKK in Oregon. Was membership drawn from small-town, rural America, or did the KKK enroll members from urban, professional environments as well? Who and what were the targets of the KKK in Oregon, in Eugene, on campus? Who opposed the KKK in Oregon—publicly and privately? How did members perceive the KKK—a white supremacist group, fraternal organization, benevolent society, business association, populist movement, any or all of the above? These are some of the questions panelists will explore about this hidden history of Oregon.


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