Ku Klux Klan Expert Speaks About NC Ties At ECU, J.H. Rose

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It's a sensitive part of history, and a part students and faculty at East Carolina University learned more about Wednesday: The role the Ku Klux Klan played in the south, particularly in North Carolina.

Doctor David Cunningham, an associate professor of sociology at Brandeis University in Massachusetts spoke at ECU Wednesday about the rise and fall of the klan in our state. Cunningham's book "Klansville, U.S.A: The Rise and Fall of the Civil Rights Era Ku Klux Klan" is an in-depth history of the KKK focusing on the United Klans of America (UKA) in North Carolina.

Cunningham says in the 1960s, the KKK boasted more than 4 million members with the largest membership in North Carolina. He says our state's klan membership was larger than the rest of the South combined. He says of the total membership in the KKK, 52% , or 192 of its members, came from NC.

Cunningham says communities are still feeling the effects of the KKK. He says, areas where the klan was active 50 years ago, continue to have a higher number of violent crimes than areas where the klan did not exist.

"I think people will be very much taken aback by that information and somewhat surprised, at least I was. I always thought of North Carolina as a relatively progressive state, and so that's kind of surprising that the Klan would've been so active here," said Cunningham.

Cunningham also spoke to students at J.H. Rose High School this morning addressing about 150 students from advanced placement and honors courses.