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The Recurring Klan Movement’s Fight for “Americanism” and Against Equality

September 13, 2021 @ 6:30 pm 8:00 pm

From the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017, to the role of white nationalists in the January 6 U.S. Capitol insurgency, recent events have spotlighted white supremacist groups. To grapple with these forces and broader problems of racism and inequality, we need a deeper understanding of the Klan movement—the Ku Klux Klan and loosely aligned white supremacist groups—and its influence on American political development. In this talk, I share research from historical archives and empirical data, including Klan speeches and newspapers, U.S. case law records, congressional and FBI investigations, military tribunals, newspaper reports, and prior studies, to illuminate how the Klan initiated a recurring white supremacist movement that has cloaked itself in constitutional patriotism as it has fought for an “invisible empire” and “pure Americanism,” and against egalitarian democracy. This reveals a more complex picture of the ‘what, why, who, how, where, and when’ of the Klan, and a web of Klan influence on American politics, law, and culture that has never been adequately recognized or overturned.

UC Santa Cruz Slugs & Steins event with Associate Professor of Politics Elizabeth Beaumont.

Elizabeth Beaumont

Elizabeth Beaumont is Associate Professor of Politics and past Director of Legal Studies at UCSC. Her research focuses on constitutionalism and democracy, as well as civic engagement and education. She is particularly interested in problems of unequal citizenship, the relationship between citizenship, democracy, and education, and how civic actors seek to shape rights, law, and political power and policy. Associate Professor Beaumont received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford after earning a B.A. from Pomona College. Before joining UC Santa Cruz, she was Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota where she was awarded the university’s highest research award for junior faculty. Her work has earned support from the Ford Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the CIRCLE Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Edmund J. Safra Ethics Center at Harvard University. She authored The Civic Constitution: Civic Visions and Struggles in the Path Toward Constitutional Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014), which focuses on the role of several major civic groups and social movements in shaping American constitutional creation and change.