Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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Ku Klux Klan Term Analysis

The Ku Klux Klan is an American white supremacist organization with a long history of violence and terrorism towards Black Americans, among many other targets. By the 1920s, the second iteration of the Klan had experienced massive growth, driven in part by the popularity of Birth of a Nation, a wildly racist film, and the demographic shifts brought about by the Great Migration. The Klan encouraged a nativist message of “One Hundred Percent Americanism.” Klan concerns included gaining political power, enforcing social conservatism (including strict gender roles and prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol), and white supremacy. The descriptions in Arc of Justice of the Detroit Klan chapter stoking racial tensions, fanning the flames of violence, and involving itself directly in politics typify the second iteration of the KKK (which was active between 1915 and 1928).

Ku Klux Klan Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by Ku Klux Klan or refer to Ku Klux Klan. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Chapter 2 Quotes

The threat of violence was constant. Across the cotton belt, planters organized terrorist cells: the Regulators, the Whitecappers, the Ku Klux Klan. Operating under the protection of darkness, the Klan and their fellows targeted anyone who dared to challenge white domination. They forced teachers in colored schools to abandon their posts. They threatened, assaulted, and burned out those few freedmen who managed to acquire land of their own. Mostly, they waged war against the Republican state governments that set Reconstruction’s rules. Vigilantes assassinated dozens of Republicans in the late 1860s and early 1870s, as many as seventy in the heavily black county just east of Leon, where the Klan ran rampant.

Page Number: 52-53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

While Du Bois pledged that Negroes would return from Europe ready to fight for equal rights, socialists A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen preached the power of armed resistance. “We are…urging Negroes and other oppressed groups confronted with lynching and mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense,” the pair wrote during the bloody summer of 1919. “Always regard your own life as more important than the life of the person about to take yours, and if a choice has to be made between the sacrifice of your life and the loss of the lyncher’s life, chose to preserve your own and to destroy that of the lynching mob.”

Related Characters: W. E. B. Du Bois, Ossian Sweet
Page Number: 118
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

All summer long, the Invisible Empire had been trying to “induce Negroes to go into districts populated entirely by persons who would … resent such an invasion,” hoping that […] Detroit would be consumed by racial violence so severe the city government would topple […] Of course, Negroes had a legal right to live wherever they wished. But, insisted Smith, “it does not always do for any man to demand to its fullest the right which the law gives him. Sometimes by doing so he works irremediable harm to himself and his fellows.” In fact, segregation was a social good, and those who dared to challenge it an enemy to their people and their city […] “I shall go further. I believe that any colored person who endangers life and property, simply to gratify his personal pride, is an enemy of his race as well as an incitant of riot and murder.”

Related Characters: John Smith (speaker)
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 195-196
Explanation and Analysis:

The Klan was in the ascendancy; the Negroes’ white allies on the bench had deserted them; the mayor they had helped to elect had endorsed injustice and declared the pursuit of civil rights a threat to peace and liberal democracy. No longer was this simply a question of whether the Sweets were justified in firing into the mob on Garland Avenue. Now the Talented Tenth was locked in combat against segregation itself, battling to preserve some shred of the promise that brought almost a million people out of the South in the previous ten years, to show that the North was different, to prove that there were places in America where Jim Crow would not be allowed to rule. This had become a fight over fundamentals.

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet, Gladys Sweet, John Smith
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

With its fight against restrictive covenants, though, the NAACP believed it had a way to show its erstwhile allies that in the era of the KKK they were not assured of being on the safe side of the color line. Already the NAACP had reports of builders barring Jews from new housing developments. And there was every reason to believe that Anglo-Saxons would soon extend such prohibitions to Catholics and immigrants as well. Every opportunity they had, association officials hammered the message home. Agreements that denied blacks access to the homes of their choice were “the entering wedge of the Ku Klux Klan program of elimination.”

Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 204-205
Explanation and Analysis:

Ossian was quoted as saying in late September, “I am willing to stay indefinitely in the cell and be punished. I feel sure by the demonstration made by my people that they have confidence in me as a law-abiding citizen. I denounce the theory of Ku Kluxism and uphold the theory of manhood with a wife and tiny baby to protect.” Tough as nails on the night of the shooting, Gladys became in White’s hands a black Madonna, her arms aching for the child she could not hold. “Though I suffer and am torn loose from my fourteen-month-old baby,” she said, “I feel it is my duty to the womanhood of the race. If I am freed I shall return and live at my home on Garland Avenue.”

Related Characters: Ossian Sweet (speaker), Gladys Sweet (speaker), Iva Sweet, Walter White, Leon Breiner
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

Not once in the many appearances that the newspapers reported did Smith defend the right of colored families to live wherever they pleased, as he had done during the July disturbances; not once did he criticize banks, insurance companies, builders, and real estate agents for hemming Negroes into Black Bottom, nor did he condemn mobs for assaulting those few who managed to break through its boundaries; not once did he talk about the Sweets, although the story was white-hot as the mayoral campaign was coming to a climax. It was a political silence, given white Detroit’s hostility to Negroes crossing the neighborhood color line, a simple act of omission—and an unrepentant sin of commission in the ongoing construction of a segregated city.

Related Characters: Frank Murphy, John Smith
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

When the proceedings resumed at half past nine on Thursday, November 5, the courtroom had been transformed into a tableau of American justice. On a simple bench along one wall sat the eleven defendants, Ossian and Gladys side by side on the far end, exchanging occasional whispers but otherwise watching events with grim-faced concentration. Against the opposite wall sat twelve of their peers—in name if not in fact—arranged in two neat rows of chairs set behind a low railing. Between the two groups in the well of the courtroom stood the representative of the people, the accuser facing the accused as the finest of Anglo-Saxon traditions required, a handsome young white man come to say why eleven Negroes should spend the rest of their lives in prison paying for their crimes.

Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ku Klux Klan Term Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the term Ku Klux Klan appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue: America: 1925
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...political organizations confirm their exclusionary ideas. And many people—even in the North—join the Ku Klux Klan. (full context)
Chapter 1: Where Death Waits
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...tensions in Detroit. In the first half of 1925, the police—many of whom were also Klansmen—shot 55 Black people. In one event, policeman Proctor Pruitt shot Steve Tomkins, a Black man... (full context)
Chapter 2: Ain’t No Slavery No More
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...attempts to limit and disenfranchise people they once enslaved. And organizations like the Ku Klux Klan used violence to rebel against Reconstruction. (full context)
Chapter 3: Migration
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...intellectuals and politicians merge with the direct political actions of groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Congress moves closer to limiting foreign immigration, and racial segregation becomes entrenched in northern cities... (full context)
Chapter 5: White Houses
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...city’s mayor announces his early retirement in 1924, necessitating a special election, the Ku Klux Klan jumps into the political fray. John Smith, a Polish-American Catholic and a former soldier with... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
The Ku Klux Klan pick an unknown lawyer as their candidate to challenge John Smith. When they fail to... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
The Ku Klux Klan poses a very real threat: just days after the attack on John Fletcher, they host... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
By the time the Sweets move in in early September, the Ku Klux Klan has gotten its man on the ballot for the mayoral election in the fall; exuberant... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Letter of Your Law
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...political aspirations, and although he isn’t a member himself, he can’t afford to alienate the Klan, a powerful voting bloc. However, despite his conviction that, with racial tensions running so high,... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...Murphy shows no signs of offering sympathy or mercy to the defendants. That night, the Klan holds a rally filled with racist vitriol and cheers for their mayoral candidate. And the... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...worst blow on Sunday. In an open letter to the police commissioner, he blames the Klan’s social and political machinations, even going so far as to claim that the Klan has... (full context)
Chapter 7: Freedmen, Sons of God, Americans
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...NAACP’s list, but each one declines to join the defense. The political situation—everyone expects the Klan’s candidate to do well in the upcoming mayoral election—makes the proposition too risky. Only Chawke... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...overrides blind justice. The trial of The People v. Sweet will proceed. The next day, Klan candidates sweep the city primary, even in the city’s eastern, working class, and ethnic minority... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Prodigal Son
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
...appeals to progressives, and takes a strong stand against the terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan. Darrow’s name breaks the color line and the Sweets’ story gains traction across the nation... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Outside the courtroom, the Klan’s unexpectedly strong showing during the October primary election puts mayor John Smith back on the... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
The Klan’s candidate weakly protests that he isn’t a Klansman and tries to refocus the campaign on... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...a master. He easily, almost casually skewers inappropriate jurors, like an elderly man who admits Klan membership under Darrow’s sharp questioning. (full context)
Chapter 9: Prejudice
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...Smith has cast as a contest between not himself and his opponent but between the Klan’s brutality and hatred and the values of the working classes, civil rights activists, and progressives. ... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...summer and fall. He turns the ordinary people of Garland Avenue into proxies for the Klan’s hatred and violence and compares their violence to the bloodthirstiness of Roman gladiatorial combat. He... (full context)
Chapter 10: Judgement Day
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...with progressives and Sweet supporters, including Edward Carter. And a scandal has imploded the Detroit Klan, greatly reducing its power. (full context)
Epilogue: Requiescam
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...legal and social changes in American society in the 1930s, 40s, 50s do show progress. Klan power evaporates and Jim Crow segregation drains away in the North, where white people convince... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...the Detroit business and social elite’s coordinated campaigns against him. Without the foil of the Klan to rally progressive groups behind him, Smith fails to achieve a workable coalition again. (full context)