Author to discuss KKK history Nov. 9 at library

Staff Reports

The intimidating hoods hid their identity.

But author and respected Hoosier historian James H. Madison can tell you who the Ku Klux Klansmen were in Indiana and the larger Midwest. He just spent three years on his latest book “The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland.”

“We now know that Klan members were respected Methodists, lawyers, Masons, police officers, churchwomen, teachers, mayors and businessmen. Indiana’s governor, a majority of the General Assembly — and the Indianapolis mayor had Klan allegiances,” Madison wrote in a recent column in the Indianapolis Business Journal.

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Madison, among the more popular area speakers, will present those kinds of details and much more in his free, livestreamed presentation carrying the same title as his Indiana University Press book. His talk will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 9 on the Facebook page for the Bartholomew County Public Library and the library’s YouTube channel.

His research shows that the Klan utilized what he termed “intimidation, violence, and the ballot box to grip the heartland in the 1920s, leaving a legacy with implications stretching to today and beyond.”

Historians estimate that, nationwide in the 1920s, there were as many as 4 million members of the KKK. In a talk presented on American History TV, Madison said he seeks to “convince people that the Klan is relevant today.” He also added that “this is not a story for the margin, for the sidebar,” and that the KKK cuts to the very heart of American history.

“This is a story that goes in the center of our textbooks,” he said in that televised presentation.

Madison will discuss the Klan’s roots, development, and motivations as they sought to answer the question “Who is an American?”

He traces the Klan’s impact from a century ago to the much-publicized, modern-day demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Madison is the author of many other books, including “Hoosiers: A New History of Indiana.” He is also the Thomas and Kathryn Miller professor of history emeritus at Indiana University. He began teaching Indiana history in 1976 and has lectured and consulted widely on Indiana topics.

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Who: Author and historian James Madison.

What: He will discuss his latest book "The Ku Klux Klan in the Heartland."

When: 6 p.m. Nov. 9.

Where: Livestreamed on the Bartholomew County Public Library Facebook page and its YouTube channel.

Information: mybcpl.org

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