American Experience: Klansville U.S.A.
9 p.m. Tuesday, PBS
Having found a path to integration that avoided the violence visited upon its Deep South neighbors, North Carolina was seen as the region’s most progressive state in the mid-’60s when a Salisbury man – gifted at organizing and little else – led a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan in the state by relying on tactics borrowed from county fairs and tent revivals.
Bob Jones tapped into the fear by lower-class whites that they were being marginalized as blacks claimed equality in hiring and schools, says Callie Wiser, producer of “Klansville U.S.A.,” an “American Experience” episode airing 9 p.m. Tuesday on PBS.
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Wiser, a Tennessee native and a Morehead Scholar at UNC Chapel Hill who now lives near Boston, says Jones recruited thousands to the Klan ranks by holding picnics and rallies where whites would find a welcoming atmosphere amid the turbulence of social change.
“It felt like a church revival,” she says. “They got together with people they understood and were like them.”