One hundred years ago today, D. W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation began its record-breaking run in Atlanta. Less than a week before the film's Atlanta premiere, William Simmons launched a new incarnation of the Klan, which he advertised alongside Griffith’s paean to the original Klan. Over the next decade, this "modern" Klan would spread throughout the country, reaching an estimated membership peak of five million as it established itself as one of the most significant and recognizable social and political organizations in America.
In a new book to be released later this month, author Tom Rice explores little-known relationship between the Klan’s success and its use of film and media in the interwar years when the image, function, and moral rectitude of the Klan was contested on the national stage. White Robes, Silver Screens highlights the ways in which the Klan used, produced, and protested against film in order to recruit members, generate publicity, and define its role within American society.
Read an excerpt from the book.