How did the Klan grow so large in the 1920s in Colorado? Why did people that we otherwise might have thought of as fine Coloradans pull on the white robe and hood? How were some people convinced that fiery crosses were a symbol of family values? The answer is strategic marketing built on a foundation of fear.
The Ku Klux Klan was at the top of its game in Colorado as 1924 came to a close. The organization had swept the statewide elections, putting Klansmen into positions of power on the U. S. Senate, the Colorado House and Senate, as governor of the state, as mayor of the state’s capital, and in numerous other positions throughout Colorado. But they were soon to discover that gaining power and keeping power were two very different things.
Simmons “new and improved” version of the Klan got underway in 1915, but it didn’t gain traction until, in 1920, the organization hired a publicity company to help spread its gospel far and wide. What made the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan different than its Reconstruction-era predecessor? For one thing, it was organized.
The Ku Klux Klan has exerted its influence in the United States during three distinct periods of time since its inception in 1865: 1) following the Civil War in response to Reconstruction, 2) following World War II in response to immigration and poor enforcement of Prohibition, and 3) in response to the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.