Retired Sturgis history teacher Charles Rambow often speaks about the dark history of the Ku Klux Klan in the Black Hills. His master’s thesis on the Klan and 1973 article on the Klan’s popularity in South Dakota in the 1920s were sparked in 1970 when his mother gave him what turned out to be a Klan robe from his grandparents’ participation in the racist, bigoted movement.
Rambow tells KSFY his concerns about the present resurgence of white supremacist rhetoric:
“It was an organization of hate.” Charles Rambow is concerned about the rise of white nationalism he is seeing and is worried history is now repeating itself in the worst possible way.
He is two generations removed from active Ku Klux Klan members in his own family and says decades later their legacy is still tough for him to reconcile. “Yes my grandmother and grandfather were good people but they should have never been involved in the Ku Klux Klan.”
Charles Rambow tells me he doesn’t believe the Ku Klux Klan has any active chapters in South Dakota right now.
But he does say there are white supremacists in the state who hope to re-establish the Klan here; so far they have been unsuccessful [Brian Allen, “A History of Hate: The Ku Klux Klan in South Dakota,” KSFY, 2017.08.28].
Rambow notes that the 1920s Klan boom was fueled in part by the 1915 movie Birth of a Nation, an exercise in racist historical revisionism that celebrated the Confederacy. We now have an occupant of the White House who revises history and celebrates monuments to the Confederacy. Keep an eye on white-sheet sales….