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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel Duke, August 22, 1990. Interview A-0366. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ku Klux Klan targets labor activists

Duke explains how he learned during the flogging case against members of the Ku Klux Klan that the Klan was both intent upon keeping "blacks in their place" and in fighting unionization and labor activism. Explaining his tactics of garnering information, Duke describes how he seized the records of the Imperial Wizard of the Klan and found that the Ford Motor Company had subsidized Klan efforts to target labor activists. Earlier in the interview, Duke had explained that one of the flogging victims was targeted for his alleged Communism and labor activism; here, his comments demonstrate the multidimensional nature of the Klan as an organization that sought to maintain its power in various and sundry ways.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel Duke, August 22, 1990. Interview A-0366. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

So, I hit the road and we'd investigate. I moved in on them pretty heavy. I finally got a doctor in Atlanta who had a brother who was a barber. He never had come there much but he was a pretty good fellow. Said his brother was not sleeping at night and was worried. He said he had been in some of these floggings. He didn't do any hitting but he went along. He's just worried to death and what can I do to help him? I said, "if he will come down here and give us everything he knows so we can hit these guys with facts." He did that and we outlined who was in which cars, which car was in the lead. See, they had a big cross on these cars, electrified. They would go through the black sections with that cross burning with their hoods on . . .
Like a neon light?
That's right. They would go in all these towns. Down here around Fairburn and all like that. There were a lot of people that resented the hell out of it. They didn't realize how much, even in Fairburn where there were a lot of them, sympathized with them. They thought they were going to keep the blacks in their place and were going to fight labor unions. We grabbed all the information from them. Without a warrant, I didn't ever go to the trouble to get warrants to search, I just sent them out and said get this and hell they got it. Now, they'd probably want to put me in the penitentiary for violating Civil Rights. So we grabbed the records of the Imperial Wizard's palace. And by God, it showed that the Ford Motor Company had been subsidizing them, giving them money to fight unionization.