Essentially, it’s a barbecue club for racists.
  1. When Donald Trump was asked to disavow the Ku Klux Klan on CNN last week, few were surprised that he declined.
    It makes sense that America’s most notorious white supremacists would be Trump supporters, and Trump hasn’t shown any shyness about embracing controversial allies.
  2. But in 2016, the “Ku Klux Klan” isn’t exactly what you might picture.
  3. The history of the Klan has four distinct eras.
  4. The first era began during Reconstruction.
    Secret militias lynched black people and hindered efforts to rebuild after the Civil War.
  5. The second era peaked in the 1920s, when the Klan had 4 million members.
    Klansmen influenced elections and ran entire towns.
  6. The third era arose in reaction to the civil rights movement.
    The Klan bombed black churches and murdered activists.
  7. The fourth wave began in the 1970s, and continues today.
    During this time, the KKK has tried to become a professional organization with legitimate aspirations.
  8. Now, the Klan has fractured into more than 30 independent chapters.
    These small groups use the Klan’s “brand” to appear more formidable.
  9. Many of the groups distrust each other, and feuds are common.
    The Loyal White Knights of the KKK hate the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK because they suspect the latter group’s “imperial wizard” is Jewish.
  10. Some groups are politically active, demonstrating against illegal immigration and gay marriage.
    But most new Klan members simply join to be around “like-minded white people.”
  11. The groups, called klaverns, conduct secret private gatherings called “fellowshipping”.
    Members eat communal meals and listen to speeches. Sometimes the events have live music and cross-burnings.
  12. Though the wider white supremacist movement has grown during Obama’s reign, the KKK has quietly shrunk.
    While the Klan’s influence dwindles, its members cling to memories of past relevance.
  13. As one Klansman says, “Our thoughts are to maintain the white race and give a future for our white children. So we’re just trying to have our own voice, you know.”