The Ku Klux Klan has been the most organized of the many different White supremacy groups that came into being after the Civil War. The ill-reputed Knights of the Klan have been involved in countless incidents of human rights violations against blacks and other minority groups in America. Especially in the South, during and after the Reconstruction period, the Klan played a major part in formulating and forcefully employing many of the Jim Crow laws, that delayed black mans true freedom for a century. Stetson Kennedy is a native of Jacksonville, Florida where the Klan was very active. Kennedy saw first hand the working of the Klan when a maid in his house was taken for a ride by the Klan and badly tortured. Kennedy developed a hatred for the Ku Klux Klan and wanted to do all he could to limit the influence of and put a stop to its hate mongering.
He wrote a book Palmetto Country in which he blasted the myth that the Klan was formed to save the South from Scalawags, Carpetbaggers and Negroes. This was the view held widely throughout the South and took root more so as it was romantically depicted in Southern writers publications and the ground breaking movie The Birth of a Nation. Kennedy noted that the Klan was actually the handiwork of the rich Southern plantation holders, who wanted to keep the black labor force under chains similar to those of slavery. Also, Kennedy noted that the few things written about the were editorials rather than exposes.
He felt the need for not just words but for legal evidence against the Klans inside machinations. For that purpose someone would have to go under a Klan robe and turn the hooded orders dirty linen for all the world to see. The author decided to volunteer for the job and thus began his adventure as a Klan-buster, in the headquarters of the Klan at the time in Atlanta. The first few chapters relate his experiences at the Klan meetings and his mostly successful efforts to report the planned acts of hooded terrorism to authorities.
Soon enough, Kennedy had enough incriminating evidence against the Klan. In an action packed moment in the courthouse, Kennedy disrobed from under his Klan mask in front of stunned Klansmen who had thought he was one of them. Kennedy testified against the vicious organization, and played an important role in bringing the Klan to its knees. Through the remainder of the book, Kennedy relays his experiences working against other similar outfits, like the Colombians in Florida, who had Nazi leaders perpetrating anti-Negro, anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic sentiments. As a result of his daring confrontations with the Klan and other organizations, Kennedy has had to face numerous threats to his life and property. The Klan Unmasked is a real eye-opener into the devilish machinations of the Ku Klux Klan.
Instead of sermonizing about the issue, Kennedy takes a very daring and practical approach and enthralls the readers with his Klan-busting adventures. It portrays the dangers of falling into the vicious business of hate-mongering very effectively and makes us think hard about the racial and social problems facing American society as it enters a new century.