Since 1865, the Ku Klux Klan has provided a vehicle for a kind of hatred in America, and its members have been responsible for atrocities that are difficult for most people to even imagine.
The Klan itself has had three periods of significant strength in American history — in the late 19th century, in the 1920s, and during the 1950s and early 1960s when the civil rights movement was at its height. The Klan had a resurgence again in the 1970s, but did not reach its past level of influence. Since then, the Klan has become just one element in a much broader spectrum of white supremacist activity.
For many years the KKK quite literally could get away with murder. The Ku Klux Klan was an instrument of fear, and black people, Jews and even white civil rights workers knew that the fear was intended to control us, to keep things as they had been in the South through slavery, and after that ended, through Jim crow. This fear of the Klan was very real because, for a long time, the Klan had the power of Southern society on its side.
by Julian bond – “Ku Klux Klan, A History of Racism and Violence”