Collecting history can sometimes be uncomfortable and it is often hard to retain objectivity. Such was the case with two recent acquisitions—a broadside advertising a Ku Klux Klan demonstration in Woodstock in 1926, and two protest posters from this past Saturday’s rally to repeal Connecticut’s gun laws.
Most of us are familiar with the Klan with their white robes and conical hats which was active in the South in the 1860s and 1870s. That group essentially died out in the 1870s. In 1915 a second Klan was founded in Atlanta, Georgia, and adopted the clothing and code words of the first organization. It was this second Klan that used cross burnings as part of their intimidation tactics. They were anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant, prohibitionist and anti-Semitic. Certainly not a group I would personally find appealing.
It was the Women of the Ku Klux Klan that held a “Patriotic Demonstration” at the Woodstock Fair Grounds on August 16, 1926, from 8:00 to 11:00 pm. The invitation was extended to “White, Gentile, Protestants.” I have yet to find a newspaper account of the meeting, which would give me more context. I wonder who attended, and were the women local or from out of town or even out of state? Were there speakers? Was there a counter demonstration? Once again, more questions than answers.
My bias against guns and gun use made me extremely uncomfortable when I took an expedition to the Second Amendment rally at the State House on Saturday to try and collect some of the hand-made protest signs. There were a lot of guns around and some people who looked very angry about having to register their guns and ammunition clips. I was not going to ask one of them if I could have his poster! So, I ended up with two NRA-printed posters that were being handed out to attendees. Not my goal by any means, but at least we now have some representation of the “other side” of gun regulation to go along with the anti-gun signs from the rally after the Newtown slayings. We need to tell both sides of a story no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. Just part of the job.