1925 : Ku Klux Klan Parade in Grand Rapids

July 4, 2024 all-day

Independence Day 1925 saw a 3,000-person march of the KKK, starting along Bridge Street on Grand Rapids’ Northwest Side. Hoping to bolster Michigan’s struggling Klan, the marchers donned their uniforms but went hoodless to show their identity and pride in membership. The group had only limited ties to the Reconstruction-era South.

For more information, see Garret Ellison, “Retrospectives: Ku Klux Klan visits Grand Rapids in a big way on Independence Day 1925 (photos)”, MLive, February 22, 2012.

For more information, see Craig Fox, Everyday Klansfolk: White Protestant Life and the KKK in 1920s Michigan, Michigan State University Press, 2011. Although the picture of the Ku Klux Klan as a small, fanatical organization bent on racial violence and based primarily in the American South is certainly accurate in terms of the organization’s history during the 1860s and the 1960s, according to Fox (PhD, history, U. of York), there was another Klan that existed all over the United States in the 1920s which relied more upon “wide-ranging popular appeals to Protestant morality, prohibition, and law enforcement, rather than overt reliance upon vigilantism.” This “second” Klan achieved a membership of millions by the middle of the decade and spread all across the United States, including to rural Newaygo County, Michigan, where a previously unknown cache of organizational documents and paraphernalia of the 1920s Klan was discovered in 1992, providing an unprecedented opportunity for a case study of the organizational life of “Newaygo County Klan No. 29” from its inception in the summer of 1923, through its 1925 peak, official chartering, and subsequent decline, presented here and placed in its regional context.

For more information, search the MSU Libraries’ Special Collections and/or the Main Library Catalog.

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