The Civic, Educational, and Progressive Klan
Today it seems contradictory, even awkward, to write of a civic or progressive Klan, given the blood-stained history of the order in American life. During the 1920s, though, the Klan not only was concerned with civic affairs and progressive matters but pursued these concerns actively and vigorously in Alabama and in most other states where it became active.
Civic and educational activity was largely the function of the revised order's vast heterogeneity and diversity. Because it encompassed virtually every aspect of middle-class life, a significant portion of its raison d'être was the perpetuation of old-stock middle-class American values--among them, hard work, patriotism, public education, temperance, and traditional forms of morality. The Klan spent much time, money, and energy in Alabama and elsewhere on patriotic, educational, and civic guidance and even made charitable contributions to the communities in which it flourished.
To say that the 1920s Klan had a strong civic, educational, and progressive component, however, does not for one moment discount its more insidious manifestations. It does not deny, lessen, or mitigate the fact that one of the Klan's components, especially in Alabama, was intensely violent and morally intolerant. When we speak of the civic Klan, we acknowledge that the 1920s order was complex in its composition and varied in its personality.
One of the second Klan's central missions was the advocacy, propagation, and preservation of patriotism, a derivative of its slogan "100 percent Americanism." Alabama Knights spent a great deal of time promulgating the patriotic creed with which most of them had been raised. They dis