Yes, I know it’s a bit strange opening this blog with an entry about the Ku-Klux-Klan, but I happened to stumble upon the subject when reading about the big mess in Ferguson, Missouri in early August. To recap – a (white) police officer, named Darren Wilson, got into an altercation with Micheal Brown, an unarmed 18-year old. This altercation ended with at least six bullets in Brown’s corpse – 4 in the body and 2 in the head. Following the shooting there was an outcry of the local population, sometimes violent, that lasted for more than 2 weeks. These events were covered by practically every media outlet in the US and overseas.
As of now this story has not ended, but somewhere along the way, among those who supported Darren Wilson, was one Charles “Chuck” Murrey, that tried to raise money for Wilson’s legal defense. The interesting thing about Murrey was the title that he carried — An Imperial Wizard for the Ku Klux Klan
Wikipedia tells me that the KKK went through 3 phases, none of them good: the first was between 1865-1874 during the reconstruction era in the south following the Civil War. The second phase was between 1915-1944 and introduced such innovations like a burning cross. During its peak in the phase, the clan had about 6 million members, but facing criminal activities of its leaders and external opposition, this number dropped to about 30,000. The third phase was between 50s and the 60s, and between the 70s to the present. Needless to say that all 3 phases were violent, and included the lynching of black Americans, anti-semitism and other terrorist activities.
When I started reading, the first thing that caught my eye was the origin of the name. Wikipedia says that it’s probably derived from the Greek Kuklos, meaning “circle”. This seems a bit idiosyncratic to me – a Greek word just lying there, but then I got to read a bit about their slang, and titles, and found it hard to keep a straight face.
The entire Klan field of jurisdiction is called an Empire, with the different states called Realms. Each Realm could have up to 3 Dominions, and any number of Provinces (equivalent to a county).
- The Empire is led by an Imperial Wizard, who has a team of ten Genii. He has an Imperial Exchequer and an Imperial Scribe.
- The Realm is led by a Grand Dragon and a team of eight Hydras, plus a local (grand) Exchequer and Scribe.
- The Dominion is led by a Grand Titan and a team of six Furies, plus the local Exchequer and Scribe.
- The Province is led by a Grand Giant and a team of four Goblins, plus the local Exchequer and Scribe.
So a short recap: Wizard > Dragon > Titan > Giant.
It’s not over.
The local organization, which was the backbone of it all, was called a Den. It was led by a Grand Cyclops, a team of two Nighthawks, a Grand Turk, a Grand Sentinel, a Grand Ensign, plus the local Exchequer and Scribe. The Cyclops’ second officer was called the Grand Magi, and his third officer – the Grand Monk. The common members formed a political committee and were named Ghouls.
So let’s try it again: Wizard > Geni > Dragon > Hydra > Titan > Fury > Giant > Cyclops, Ensign, Magi, Monk, Nighthawk, Turk, Sentinel > Ghoul. (plus the Exchequer and Scribe, of course)
It’s only natural that such a carefully planned organization will have a respectable legal system, with an equally respectable name. So the tribunal for KKK officers was called The Grand Council of Yahoos, and the one for the plebs was called The Grand Council of Centaurs.
During the Klan’s second phase, some of the titles were abandoned and other words added, such as Aliens to describe non-Klan-member, Kludd for the chaplain, Klokard for a lecturer and Kligrapp for the secretary.
Months got new and especially cheerful names (although some changes were made, they all follow the same pattern), weekdays got to be named after colors, and even the hours got their own fun new names:
January was called “Dismal”, February “Dark”, other names include “alarming”, “dreadful”, “mournful” etc.. weekdays are “white” for Sunday, and “green” for Monday, then blue, black, yellow, crimson and purple. The hours are named “fearful”, “awful”, “woeful”, “hideous” etc.
You can check out the Wikipedia page for the entire listing.
All these lovely names and more made up the Klan’s Kalender.
And still, I find it hard to picture a meeting of grown up men in the middle of the 19th century, wearing white sheets (named, by the way, Regalia), and saying to each other something along the lines of “Mr. Geni, the Great Titan asked his Giant and Goblins to deal with the mess the Sentinel and his Ghoul friends made a week ago in Alabama. Either they take care of it, or it’s off to the Centaurs with them”. All this without a D-20 and a pizza.
For further reading:
- Officer shooting an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
- Unrest and riots in Ferguson
- Charles Murrey of the KKK is trying to raise money to fund the officer’s legal defense.
- The KKK disowns Charles Murrey (!!!)
- The history of the KKK
- KKK terminology and titles. (more)
- A book that looks pretty interesting on the subject.