How Superman Defeated the KKK

I am currently on holiday in America, for the first time, and even better than that, I’m in Alabama. It’s fascinating and for someone like me who likes to discover little tidbits of information and facts, it’s been quite a discovery! Here is one of my favourite little finds, more are yet to follow I assure you.

In the 1940s, the Ku Klux Klan experienced a resurgence and their support was growing. A brave reporter called Stetson Kennedy went undercover and infiltrated the Ku Klax Klan, but soon discovered that they were interconnected into various society members and groups including even the local police in some areas down South.

So, in order to gather support for the opposition of the KKK and to debase their organisation, he employed the power of Superman who was very popular at this time. In 1946, the Adventures of Superman radio show ran a 16-episode arc titled ‘Clan of the Fiery Cross’, an enemy who took on a suspiciously similar appearance to the KKK.

And so it transpired that every day as Superman fought the ‘Clan’ with hooded white cloaks, he made them look less threatening and more ridiculous, especially with Kennedy giving away rituals meetings and code words that frustrated the KKK. Almost overnight the Klan’s recruitment efforts began to dry up.

It apparently ended up with people showing up to meetings just to laugh. Much is left to debate and apparently Kennedy was a bit of an exaggerator, but the basics are all there. And sure, he was one brave man to work his way into the Klan and reveal it’s secrets to the world without being discovered.

You can find out more information on Stetson Kennedy’s Wikipedia page, and all sixteen of the Klan-related episodes of the Superman radio serial are on YouTube. In the 2005 book ‘Freakonomics’, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt called Kennedy “the greatest single contributor to the weakening of the Ku Klux Klan”.

Super interesting stuff! You can be sure I will follow this up with some more reading.


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