Extremist Movements in Race and Politics

March 31, 1965

Report Outline
Growth of Radical Right Organizations
Extremism in Politics: 1924 and 1964
Upsurge of White and Black Racism
Aims and Tactics of Extremist Groups

Growth of Radical Right Organizations

Probe of Klan by Un-American Activities Group

Investigation of the Ku Klux Klan, by one or both houses of Congress, became a virtual certainty when President Johnson sharply attacked the organization following the arrest of four of its members as suspects in the case of a Michigan civil rights worker murdered the night before on an Alabama highway. The President said before television cameras at the White House, March 26, that he was directing the Attorney General to proceed immediately “to develop legislation that will bring the activities of the Klan under effective control of the law.” He added that if committees of Congress wished, in connection with new legislation, to investigate the activities of the Klan and similar organizations “and the part that they play in instigating violence,” the administration would make “all the resources of the federal government … available to them.”

The House Un-American Activities Committee, well known for investigating left-wing extremism, was already considering shifting its attention to the Klan and other racist or political extremist movements on the right. In mid-February, Committee Chairman Edwin E. Willis (D La.) had announced a preliminary probe of the Klan, the Black Muslims, the Minutemen and the American Nazi Party. As soon as the President denounced the Klan and strong bipartisan support for a full-scale investigation became evident on Capitol Hill, Willis scheduled a meeting of the House committee. It voted unanimously on March 30 to go ahead with a Ku Klux Klan inquiry.

Pressure for an investigation of extremist groups on the right had been mounting. Rep. Charles S. Joelson (D N.J.) asked the Un-American Activities Committee last Nov. 18 to examine the Minutemen, a secret paramilitary organization which is apprehensive about a Communist coup in the United States. “The time has come,” Joelson said in a letter to Chairman Willis, “to make it crystal clear that under the guise of anti-communism, no extreme right-wing Fascist group will be allowed to threaten the peace and tranquillity of our beloved nation.” Then, Feb. 1, Rep. Charles L. Weltner (D Ga.) urged a probe of the Klan. Although honest men might define “un-American” differently, Weltner said, all could agree that “activities which by force and violence seek to deprive others of rights guaranteed them by the Constitution are un-American.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Racism and Hate
Aug. 13, 2021  Hate Crimes
Feb. 12, 2021  Slavery's Legacy
May 12, 2017  Anti-Semitism
Mar. 17, 2017  ‘Alt-Right’ Movement
Sep. 18, 2015  Far-Right Extremism
Nov. 22, 2013  Racial Profiling
May 08, 2009  Hate Groups
Jun. 01, 2007  Shock Jocks Updated
Jan. 07, 1994  Racial Tensions in Schools
Jan. 08, 1993  Hate Crimes
May 12, 1989  The Growing Danger of Hate Groups
Nov. 05, 1969  American History: Reappraisal and Revision
Mar. 31, 1965  Extremist Movements in Race and Politics
May 13, 1964  Racism in America
Dec. 03, 1958  Spread of Terrorism and Hatemongering
Jul. 10, 1946  Ku Klux Klan
Jan. 09, 1945  Race Equality
Dec. 19, 1933  Lynching and Kidnapping
Hate Groups
Race and Hate Crimes