Ku Klux Klan in Albuquerque
By Sue Schuurman
SEPTEMBER 8, 1998:
75 Years Ago This Week
One doesn't usually associate the KKK with the Southwest--perhaps because there's never been a high percentage of African Americans living in this region. Nevertheless, that didn't stop a local Klan chapter from practicing their cowardly form of terror. On the night of Sept. 4, 1923, no one was hurt, but an ominous sign in the form of a burning cross surely inspired fear in the non-Anglo population.
"Fiery Cross of KKK on Hill.
"ALBUQUERQUE--A fiery cross, twenty-five feet high and twenty feet wide, blazed in the darkness atop Powder Hill about nine o'clock last night. Investigation failed to disclose whether or not a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan was held. It may be that the cross was the signal for a meeting of the exponents of night-shirt justice, and it may be that it was merely a signal of some other kind. Whatever the purpose the fiery cross was there, plain against the darkened sky line, about 300 yards southeast of the Powder House.
"The cross burned for a half hour or so, before it broke off about eight feet from the ground. The broken stump and the portion on the ground flared until 10 o'clock. ...
"An old wagon trail runs east and west close by the site of the cross and fresh tracks of a light horse-drawn wagon or hack could be seen plainly. ...
"Numerous footprints could be seen in the soft dirt surrounding the hole that had been dug for the reception of the cross, but there were not enough prints to indicate that a meeting was held immediately around the cross. A great many hoof prints of horses were seen.
"Last night's fiery spectacle, following close upon other recent evidence of klan activity in Albuquerque, gives strong indication that there is a local organization of the self-styled '100 per cent Americans' here.
"A week ago last Sunday posters appeared in various places around the city with the slogan, 'Every Klansman Every Sunday to His Church.' It was rumored that a klan meeting was held that night in Tijeras canyon.
"A rumor has been current during the past week that a klan initiation is to be held tonight near the old race track on the mesa east of the university. It is said that a prominent Albuquerque business man is at the head of the local organization."
--compiled by Susan Schuurman
Source: Albuquerque Morning Journal;
Sept. 5, 1923
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