THE PLOT THUS FAR
In the 1960s, as the civil rights movement grew across America, the long-dormant Ku Klux Klan gained momentum as well, having reemerged after the 1954 Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision. That the Klan would rise once again wasn’t surprising, but where the reincarnation took place was. North Carolina, long considered the most progressive southern state, saw a boom in Klan membership under the leadership of Bob Jones, the most successful Grand Dragon in the country.
Tapping into the fears and resentments of low-income whites who believed that a changing America would leave them behind, Jones took his message across the state. In just three years, he grew the North Carolina Klan from a handful of friends to some 10,000 members–more than the Klans of all other southern states combined. In the process, Jones helped give the Tarheel State a new nickname: “Klansville, U.S.A.”
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“Klansville USA” is an insanely great documentary about the later years of the Klan’s golden era. It was the last gasp of an institution that served as one of the worst secret societies in American history. However, what should be taken away from the presentation is how fast Bob Jones was able to grow the organization in three years. Much of that legacy has been usurped by the Tea Party, but the framework remains.
The KKK has become one of those darker American legends that too many in the mainstream have grown distant in relation. Too many younger Americans forget that there was a period in the United States were a secretive group controlled politics and social standards across a large swath of America. The Third era of the Klan was important, as it paralleled the end-game of the aggressive response to the Civil Rights movement. Still, it’s scary to see the level of control and penetration that the Klan had for such a great amount of time.
The DVD comes with no special features. The A/V Quality is on par for most recent standard definition PBS releases. The transfer isn’t amazing, but it works. The same goes for the Dolby 5.1 audio track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: 02/17/2015