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The KKK on Campus

September 14, 2006

My research on the Ku Klux Klan for a specialized history encyclopedia raised the following question: What historical presence has the KKK had on college campuses? Have they ever been “approved” by a higher education institution? Have they operated clandestinely on campuses?

A quick Google search revealed, through Tolerance.org, that the Klan has recently been involved in numerous campus incidents. From the mid-1980s through November 2001, approximately 150 Klan-related incidents occurred at higher education institutions all over the U.S. The states with the largest number of reported incidents included some obvious, due to population or historical, geographical Klan affiliations (i.e. California, Ohio, Alabama) and others not so obvious (i.e. Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts).

Historically, I would expect campus activity due to the correlation between the Klan’s 1920s revival and the population growth of students on campus in the same period. There are only a few books addressing the historical presence of the Klan on campuses: Todd Tucker’s Notre Dame vs. the Klan; Cathleen B. Taylor’s Midnight on the Knoll: Ku Klux Klan activity on the University of Minnesota campus, 1923-1925; and Matthew Stevens and Kristine Rodriguez’s Valparaiso University: Off the Record. Apparently the Klan considered buying Valparaiso University in the 1920s! This may be a legend. – TL

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