Womens Empowerment, as the Protestant Women’s Ku Klux Klan waged brutal “whisper campaigns ”: accounting for women’s roles in occluded social violence long overdue
A Brief History of the Women’s KKKThe Women’s KKK, an affiliated-but-separate racist organization for white Protestant women, courted members through…. “empowerment feminism.”
With a few exceptions, such as a 1924 riot in which WKKK members
paraded around with clubs, the WKKK did not engage in the lynching and other acts of violence of their male counterparts. This lack of physical violence has led many historical commentators to view WKKK members, and
indeed all women involved in racist movements, as shadowy, inconsequential figures lurking behind the male actors.
But in fact, the WKKK was deeply, regrettably powerful. According to
Blee, they were “covert manipulators and cultural organizers,” using their social power to further their agendas.
Many of these women were
already savvy social players: post-WWI Protestant social clubs and
organizations were natural feeder groups for the WKKK. These women led “poison squads,” or whisper networks, to destroy the reputations of anti-Klan political candidates by claiming they were Catholic or Jewish.
They tried to oust Catholic public school teachers, led boycotts of
businesses, and campaigned for pro-Klan candidates. They built social ties by donating milk to school children and food baskets to needy families, and by planning weddings, christenings, funerals, carnivals, lectures, speeches, and parades, complete with floats and lady horsebackriders.