Documentary in which Neil Oliver explores the possible links between racism in America's Deep South and the Scottish settlers that first occupied it.
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This programme contains some strong language and some scenes which some viewers may find upsetting.
On the 17th of June 2015, Charleston, in South Carolina,
saw one of the worst racially motivated killings
in recent American history.
Nine black worshippers were shot dead during a prayer meeting
at this downtown church.
The killer was identified as 21-year-old
white supremacist Dylann Roof.
He confessed to committing the massacre in the hope
of igniting a race war.
All of America was shocked, but in the Southern states,
where race has been an issue for centuries,
the shooting also triggered a passionate argument about the past.
Much of it focused on the Confederate battle flag,
for many the very symbol of racism and hate.
But what is it about the past that stokes the flames of racism here?
That's the question that interests me,
because it seems that the bedrock of the Southern states of America,
the old Confederate Deep South, is, deep down,
more than a little Scottish.
He lifted the blazing emblem, the fiery cross of old Scotland's hill.
It would become the most identifiable symbols of race hatred,
of the Ku Klux Klan.
I think white Southerners do think of themselves as Celts.
It is absolutely a core idea
for a lot of these white supremacist groups,
including the original Klan which, of course, was thinking of
Scottish clans with a C when they called themselves
the Ku Klux Klan with a K.
I've spent a lot of time celebrating the legacy of Scots who left home
and helped lay the foundations of the United States of America.
When they arrived here, they had the chance to create something new,
something perfect -
a new world.
A third of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence
were Scots. The pursuit of happiness, the most famous part
of the Declaration, is arguably a Scottish idea.
But the New World is not perfect,
and I want to find out why.
If the Scots had a significant hand in conjuring the American dream,
to what extent were they also responsible for the nightmare?
That ugliest of stains,
the bloody, violent history of race hatred
that blights America to this day.
I'm travelling over 2,000 miles of the Southern states of America.
It's somewhere I've never been before
and I'm going to explore how early Scottish immigration evolved
and see whether it's had an enduring impact on race relations here.
This seems like a natural place to start as I'm told
it's living evidence of the Scots that originally settled here.
I'm in Greenville, in South Carolina,
on the eve of their annual gathering
for the Highland Games.
I can hear the pipes.
There must be Scottish people here.
Come on, Greenville, let's hear you!
-We're Scottish American.
You put the Scottish first?
We do tonight, yes, absolutely.
-Do you claim Scottish descent?
If you were to score yourself out of ten as a Scot,
what number would you give yourself?
Today, a ten.
I have a four-year-old, if I could get him out here...
He's so scared of bagpipes -
as soon as I can get him over that, it'd be fantastic.
He's scared of bagpipes?
-That's a worrying...
Oh, here we go.
The next day, at the Games proper,
I asked yet more well turned-out Scots what they thought of
the effect of Scottish migration to the States.
They influenced everything. I mean, the first governor of South Carolina
was a boy from Roxburghshire,
and he very quickly wanted state laws that reflected the way
things were back in Scotland.
Some historians will tell you, if you look at the Confederate flag
from the Civil War... Very similar to a St Andrew's in terms of design.
They see a connection there because there was a lot of Scottish heritage
in those early days.
Coming from a place where you weren't allowed to have
your own land and you felt you were kept down by the landlords,
the first thing you do when you get here is buy slaves.
There's a kind of disjuncture there, isn't there?
Greenville's not unique.
All over the South, I'm finding people keen to describe themselves
or their ancestors as Scottish.
How and why did the Scots arrive here, and what does that tell us
about the nature of the South today?
I've found one man who has written extensively
on transatlantic immigration.
Barry Vann has studied the subject in the United States and in the UK.
He brought me to one of the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia
to look down on the Great Appalachian Valley
that most of the early Scottish settlers would have passed through
during the 18th century.
They were going to the frontier looking for cheap land,
ran into those mountains -
they couldn't go north because that land was already occupied.
They couldn't go over the mountains because it was too difficult
to get over them and there were probably hostile natives over there,
so they came down the valley this way.
It's such a massive undertaking for these people -
what's driving it?
One was economic, because they were coming from a place where the lands
that they had farmed for generations
were no longer available to them because they weren't able
to afford the money rent that was required to stay on those lands.
But here they could acquire lands and become their own lord.
So, in a lot of respects, they were trying to recreate
the imagined Scotland that they had back there.
But they wanted it here
because they had more resources.
Look at those beautiful trees. Water was plentiful.
Nice, longer growing seasons.
You know, this was... This was a bountiful place.
This was the Scotland that they'd imagined.
The upgrade. Absolutely.
It wasn't just the prospect of a better future that drew Scots
to what they called the backcountry.
They were tempted here because of their reputation as fighting folk,
recruited to help defend the coastal areas already settled by the English
from Native Americans and the French.
They wanted them to come to the backcountry, to this part
of the state, or colony at that time, and to be a buffer zone
against potential invasion.
MUSIC: Ba Mo Leanabh by William Jackson & Mackenzie
This is probably the oldest part of the cemetery right here.
These are some of the founding families -
'Down in the valley
'lies the resting place of many of those early frontiers people.'
Look at that - Scot, Kirkpatrick, Bell.
-They came from Scotland and from Ulster,
and they quickly exceeded the number of English settlers in the South.
Next to the graveyard, we can see what united these newcomers.
This church is built on the site of one of the earliest
Presbyterian places of worship in the area.
Were they a happy lot, do you think?
Or were they coming in with lots of emotional
and religious baggage
on account of the old country they had left behind?
Well, when they got here, they were interested in acquiring land and
they also knew that they were going to be facing potential hostiles.
And so they were not necessarily coming here with an open hand,
saying, "We want to be friends," you know.
They came here, for the most part,
interested in farming, if they could,
and they wanted to live at strategically important places.
That's why we call them today hillbillies and hilltoppers,
because they wanted to live up in the hills
where they could see the enemy coming.
For those Presbyterians, who were the enemy?
Who was it they thought was going to come and attack them on their hills?
Anybody who wasn't them.
It could be the English,
because they had a history of conflict with the English,
they had a history of conflict with the Catholics,
they had a history of conflict
with almost anybody who was not dissenting, if you will.
Some of those settlers, confident about who they were
and, just as importantly, who they weren't,
strode out into the untamed backcountry,
moving further south and west with each generation.
But at the end of the 18th century, the settlers' simple way of life
was transformed by something that changed the course
of this part of America forever.
It was the arrival of cotton.
To the frontier farmers, the economics were simple -
cotton was a cash crop that brought relatively easy money.
It also offered an easy life,
as long as those picking the cotton were slaves.
As the cotton industry grew, so did slavery.
By 1810, the number of slaves in the US rose to 1.2 million,
almost double what it was 20 years earlier.
Now the descendants of many oppressed and downtrodden
refugee Scots took the path of racism
to become oppressors themselves.
And their simple farmhouses became
increasingly grand plantation houses,
like this one, built in 1851 just outside Charleston
by William Wallace McLeod.
He owned one of the largest plantations in South Carolina,
but, like many, he never forgot his roots -
he called the grand house Inverness.
The impression planters wanted to give was one of affluence,
and the most striking display of wealth at that time was measured
by the number of slave cabins that lined the drive to the house.
Here, there were 23.
I asked Heather Williams to show me around.
Not only is she an expert in slavery in the South,
but she's known this place for some time.
When I first came to this place,
for me it was a really powerful sense of the past.
You know, the cabins...
It seemed as though slavery just ended one day and everybody
had packed up and left, and that I had been, in a sense,
transported back to that time period, the late 1860s.
In order for a society to survive, you need the top people who think
and then the people who do the work.
This is what James Henry Hammond said - he was a senator
from South Carolina, a governor and so on.
"You need a mudsill," he said, "in society,
"and we have found them in these Africans who are so well-suited
"to do the work that we don't want to do."
They were legally owned.
They could be sold, they could be traded, they could be given away,
they could be mortgaged.
People could transfer them.
There was this perpetual sense that they would be punished
if they didn't adhere to the rules of the place.
So would this be about as good as it gets for enslaved people?
This is... Yeah, I think I've seen cabins made of brick which might
have kept people a little bit warmer in the winter.
I would think that there would be at least six, seven people in here.
William Wallace McLeod enslaved up to 100 people on his plantation
while he lived the life of undoubted privilege.
Being here, in a place where slavery actually happened,
I have to admit I'm filled, for the first time,
with feelings of disbelief
at the surreal nature of the life that those elite whites
chose for themselves.
How you get to the point where you can enjoy a life
that is composed of people who are your captives,
who are around you in great numbers, every minute of the day,
doing things against their will for no pay... They cook your food,
they work in the fields, they fix up the house.
If it's a cold night,
you would order one of them to lie across your feet
on your bed so that you are warm.
At what point
does living like that feel in any sense normal?
And it was another Scot who provided the balm
that made all this seem legitimate.
By the mid-1800s, almost every house like this would have contained
some of the many romantic novels of Sir Walter Scott.
Scott's stories of gallant knights and brave highlanders,
set in a golden, mythical past, were wildly popular.
But according to the American writer Mark Twain
they merely fed this fantasy lifestyle.
Twain thought the planters were modelling their lives
on Scott's romantic vision of the old country,
imagining themselves as lairds of their own clan.
He wrote that the civilisation of the South in the 19th century
is curiously confused and commingled
with the Walter Scott middle-age sham civilisation.
The inflated speech and the jejune romanticism of an absurd past
that is dead and, out of charity, ought to be buried.
I think that for many people it felt as though it was something
they were entitled to, and I think that sense of entitlement
then passed from generation to generation.
You know, this sense that you are supposed to have
more than other people,
and that some people are supposed to serve and you are to be served.
Twain also thought that Scott's heroic romanticism
was partly responsible for the terrible war that followed.
The Northern states had wanted to limit the expansion of slavery
just as the worldwide demand for cotton was booming.
Southern state planters like William MacLeod
saw their whole lifestyle threatened and were willing to fight for it.
In 1861, the 11 slave states with cotton-based economies
left the Union, and a horrific four-year war began.
Now, 150 years later,
people flock to see the Civil War as entertainment,
and Living History groups meet regularly to replay the battles
again and again.
This one is at Fort Hollingsworth, in Georgia,
where re-enactors from all over the Southern states take part.
What is it important to remember by taking part in and watching
a re-enactment like this?
It's important to make sure that the people understand
what the history is all about.
It's important they remember that this is something that
their ancestors fought for, and something that's actually
a part of them.
This is something that they were born ingrained with,
and they should remember that.
What does define the ancestors?
They didn't leave any of their culture behind,
they just brought it here and used that culture
and created something completely new.
You know, even from the way we talk,
even down to the patterns in their clothes...
I mean, when the Scots came here, they brought with them the tartans.
Our way of life is probably closer to those in Scotland that are now
in this part of the country - we held on to a lot of their ways.
I think we do, yeah. I think we do.
What was lost when the war was lost?
The way we lived, actually.
They had plantations, a lot of folks had plantations and a lot of wealth,
and a lot of that was lost in the South.
They had to go back and start life over.
America's Civil War was immensely destructive.
Well over 500,000 soldiers died
and much of the South's infrastructure was ruined.
But, for many whites, the greatest fear of all had just come true -
the enslaved were now free.
Not only that, but black men could also vote,
just as the vengeful North took away the right to vote for those
that supported the Confederacy.
Like the Jacobites in Scotland 100 years earlier,
the Southern whites had lost everything.
But now they too had a lost cause to believe in.
That lost cause found its footing here,
in the neat streets of Pulaski, in Tennessee.
This is where things first started to turn ugly.
I've come to meet local historian Bob Wamble to find out
what happened in the town after the end of the Civil War.
Bob, when the war was over and the soldiers came back,
what did they find here in Pulaski?
Right here in town, where we are,
they found a courthouse, and that was pretty much it.
This entire side of the square was burnt to the ground.
-It was done by Union soldiers that were stationed here.
All these Confederate soldiers that came home and had nothing...
If they had owned a business before the war, it was gone,
it was burnt to the ground.
They had no government, they had no law, really.
Anybody that had supported the Confederacy couldn't vote,
so any law that was here, they didn't have a part of.
So they were effectively aliens in their own town?
Yes. This was their home,
but it wasn't their government.
The destruction here was typical of many towns in the South,
but this town has a claim to fame that it would rather forget.
One group of former Confederate officers,
bored and fearful of the future now that black men had the vote,
set up a secret fraternal society.
They drew on ancient Greek and their Scottish heritage for their name -
they called it the Ku Klux Klan.
This is the spot where the Klan was formed.
-The Ku Klux Klan... The six young men met here in this office
and decided they wanted to form an organisation.
This is a plaque showing that the people of Pulaski
were proud of the Ku Klux Klan.
The plaque is turned backwards.
About probably 20, 25 years ago...
-Oh, it's got its face to the wall now?
-Its face is to the wall.
The man that owned this building turned it around like that.
So what's on the other side of the plaque?
Well, it lists the names of the young men
that formed the Ku Klux Klan.
I have a copy of it right here.
These are the key players.
Calvin Jones, John B Kennedy...
Frank O McCord, John C Lester,
Richard R Reed, James R Crowe.
They were all Confederate soldiers that had just come home
and just really didn't have anything better to do
than to form an organisation just for amusement.
They played their musical instruments,
sang songs and went out and serenaded the girls.
They were out hunting all the pretty girls of Pulaski.
Is that really all it was? In its first...?
In its first stages, that's all it was.
This photograph discovered by Bob is thought to show Frank McCord
and the rest of the original Klan.
It was John B Kennedy who apparently suggested that they should
call themselves a clan as they were all of Scotch-Irish descent.
Some of them were educated, obviously,
because they're drawing on Greek - kuklos is a circle,
and a clan is a family group that shares some kind of blood or a name,
I think there's an intention there to declare yourself as a group
that will stand shoulder to shoulder against outsiders.
Pulaski has another revelation.
Tucked behind this storefront is a small-scale opera house,
a good place, it seems, to understand how the Klan moved
from make-believe to reality, according to author and academic
Elaine Frantz Parsons.
How amazing. Look at that.
For a town this size, it is impressive.
Created in 1867, almost exactly the same time as the Klan,
this theatre gives us a fascinating insight
into what might have influenced them.
They're trying to figure out who they are,
and they're really interested, particularly in culture.
They don't have power any more, they don't have politics,
but maybe they can keep culture,
they can create a culture that means something.
Particularly pretending they were in a different time and place,
pretending they were, you know, in the world of Sir Walter Scott or...
I think was very attractive.
Just a couple of years after the war, they start...
they embark on this,
and it's all about theatrical and make-believe.
Was that informing the Klan as well?
Was it about the costumes and pretence?
Yeah, I think that's a really good way to think about it, actually -
that the world, the real world, wasn't something that
they necessarily wanted to spend a lot of time in.
I think that part of what happened is that they realised that this play
that they were doing could be brought to bear on this competition,
this problem that they were having with black claims to rights.
If you were in the 19th century, and you're going to the theatre,
a lot of the time you were going to a minstrel show.
And the minstrel show wasn't all about making fun of black people,
but that was an important part of the minstrel show.
So part of what the Klan wanted to do was to force black people
into situations where they looked ludicrous or ridiculous.
What better way to do that than pretend like you're a monster
and attack them, and then tell everybody how scared they were
by this monster?
What flicks the switch from it being make-believe,
harmless costumes, music...?
What flicks the switch and turns it into something sinister?
We know that Frank McCord was trying to get up a mob.
During the time that the Klan seemed to have nothing to do with it,
he is also interested in racial violence.
The Klan soon moved on from theatricalities and threats -
it became more violent and better organised.
At the nearby State Museum in Nashville,
they have one of the few remaining documents from that time,
what is, in effect, the Klan's Constitution.
Oh, it's a tiny little sliver of a thing.
So this is one of the few remaining copies of what was
the Constitution of the Ku Klux Klan.
You'll see at the front, this is the Constitution,
which they called the prescript, the prescript of the star, star, star,
which is what they used to stand for Ku Klux Klan.
I see, right.
And you have some Shakespearean verse and then down here...
-We have Burns.
-So you can see you the Scottish influence here.
The Burns is about,
"A certain ghoul is rantin'..." A certain ghost is rantin',
"drinkin', we'll send him linkin' to your black pit.
"But faith he'll turn a corner jinkin', and cheat you yet."
So both are about things macabre.
Yes, but they're also high culture.
They're saying, "We aren't just a bunch of, you know, hayseeds."
It makes you wonder what Robert Burns himself would have thought
had he known that some of his verse was going to be included in such a document.
-You know, the man that writes, "A man's a man for a' that,"
to then find one of his verses publicising the aspirations of
a society like the Ku Klux Klan.
The Klan now had rules and roles.
It had become a serious organisation,
an invisible army dedicated to re-establishing the status
of the Southern whites.
And this is what the Klan looked like.
This is an exact replica of one of the original outfits
they wore in Pulaski.
You can see how frightening that would be if somebody appeared
out of the dark dressed like that.
It's important... These were not uniforms, these were costumes.
Right, these are expressing a cultural thing.
They're not expressing that they're...
It's not an army-like uniform.
This is a very chaotic mask.
Maybe this colourful thread up here,
this red thread, used to put this black eyebrow on -
that seems like it's deliberate.
You're meant to see how sloppily made this was.
Imagine if you opened your front door and that character
was standing there brandishing a weapon or whatever.
Yeah, it's very terrifying.
In Pulaski, the Klan became increasingly popular
with the white population,
News spread, especially as Frank McCord's brother
ran the local newspaper, the Pulaski Citizen.
The stories printed in the Citizen helped publicise the Klan
and reassured the white population that something was being done
to keep the former slaves in their place.
Many potential black voters received crude and menacing messages,
like this letter from a Ku Klux ghost,
ordering them which way to vote.
Other copycat Klans were soon formed by more bored and bitter Southerners
in nearby states,
only now the theatricalities had turned very ugly indeed.
Groups of white men would come out in the evening
to a home, a cabin, and find the man of the house there,
take him from his home and then they would either whip them
to try to tell them to change their behaviour,
to punish them for something that they'd apparently done,
or they would kill that person,
kill them either by shooting them or by hanging them.
What happened when the Klan spread was that existing
white-on-black violence, which was pervasive,
right, throughout the South already,
that comes to be called "Klan violence".
And when it comes to be called Klan violence, it gets worse,
you know, people have an additional impetus,
they feel like they're part of a collective project,
they're doing something for the South.
They're not just some guy attacking their black neighbour
who is competing with them for property rights -
they are now a Klan or a Ku Klux.
By the late 1860s, a reign of terror existed
throughout much of the former Confederacy.
By the time the federal government had brought in legislation
against the Klan, much of the group's work had already been done.
Violence had successfully kept most blacks from the polls,
and the few that had taken up any civic office
had already been brutally beaten or hung.
With the black population now successfully terrorised,
white state governments brought in laws that segregated the races.
They were mockingly known as Jim Crow laws,
after a black character in a minstrel show.
Now, living separate lives,
the white population of the Southern states relaxed,
less fearful of those who were "not them".
Except the fear never really went away.
This is Atlanta, now the bustling modern business hub
of the Deep South.
In the early 1900s, it was also the place where the Klan was reborn.
We might never have heard from the Klan again
but for the efforts of one man, Thomas Dixon.
He wrote this book -
it published in 1905 and in it he transformed the members of the Klan
from villains into heroes.
Dixon was born in North Carolina,
the son of a Scots minister and plantation owner.
He went on to become a Southern Baptist minister,
lawyer and author.
His novel was called The Clansman, and it was a big seller.
It was subtitled A Historical Romance Of The Ku Klux Klan,
and it imagined a future where the racial divide is reversed,
and it is the white man that is in chains.
Now, I'm sure if you were to take the time to wade through this tome,
you would agree that it's pretty dreadful.
I offer you part of one chapter in which Dixon imagines
a future for America in which the black man is in charge.
"As he passed inside the doors of the House of Representatives,
"the rush of foul air staggered him.
"The hall was packed with Negroes smoking, chewing, jabbering,
"pushing, perspiring. The doctor surveyed the hall in dismay.
"At first, not a white member was visible.
"The galleries were packed with Negroes,
"the Speaker presiding was a Negro.
"The clerk, a Negro. The doorkeepers, Negroes.
"The little pages, all coal-black Negroes.
"The remains of Aryan civilisation were represented by 23 white men
"from the Scotch-Irish hill counties."
When the book was published, it caused a literary explosion,
and when it transferred to the stage as a play, it provoked riots,
not just in this city, but all across America.
When the play premiered at the Grand Opera House
here in Atlanta, in October 1905,
the segregated audience went wild.
Tom Rice has studied what happened.
The report stressed that the house lights were kept on,
the sale of soda bottles was prohibited because they were worried
they were going to get hurled around the theatre.
Absolutely, it tapped into this culture of fear,
these anxieties about racial integration and race relations
that were really prevalent in Atlanta and across the South
at this moment.
Dixon took his Scottish heritage and paraded it in his work.
Inside the front cover of his novel, the dedication reads...
And it's not the only reference to a Scottish past.
Clearly, the title, The Clansman,
does make a connection with the Scottish roots here.
We can see it even in the title of the main family here, the Camerons.
"It was settled by the Scotch folk who came from the north of Ireland
"in the great migrations which gave America 300,000 people
"of Covenanter martyr blood,
"the largest and most important addition to our population."
So he's really thinking about the make-up of the American South
and this area, but in turn, also, of the Klan,
what would create the Ku Klux Klan here.
"High above his head in the darkness of the cave,
"he lifted the blazing emblem, the fiery cross of old Scotland's Hill.
"I quench its flames in the sweetest blood
"that ever stained the sands of time."
And here we've got the fiery cross -
this is not a feature of the original Klan,
it's created here by Dixon.
It would become one of the most identifiable symbols of race hatred,
of the Ku Klux Klan,
and is still, today, widely identified with the Klan.
Here he is saying, this is the fiery cross of old Scotland's Hills.
He is creating a history and a heritage for this here.
The full impact of Dixon's novel was felt much more widely when,
ten years after its publication, it was released as a film, touted then,
and still lauded now, as an epic of its time.
The Birth Of A Nation, directed by Hollywood superstar DW Griffith,
let Dixon's work reach a much bigger audience, and it was a massive hit.
The budget was huge and the direction was ground-breaking,
but the story was as racist as Dixon's book.
Charlene Regester is a film academic
and remembers her first reaction.
I saw Birth Of A Nation when I was a graduate student.
Of course, some of the scenes that we saw were very inflammatory.
They showed us the alleged rape scene,
the scene where Gus is chasing the woman
who jumps off the cliff onto the ground and so,
you know, it was very offensive then,
and it's probably still equally offensive today.
It was a racially incisive story,
and it was about black male predators,
black male racists, it was about miscegenation,
and it was about the Ku Klux Klan rescuing the South,
and white supremacy.
I think all of the variables together
is what made it so volatile.
Did the film work as a PR exercise for the Klan?
They certainly made them almost appear as though they were heroic.
And also, at the end of the film,
they have one of the white characters
who unveils as a Klan member...
They're making them look like they are the saviours of the day,
they saved the South,
and certainly coincided with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan.
I think it glamorised the Klan and made it a desirable organisation
to belong to as a way of restoring order and, I guess,
of instituting white supremacy nationwide.
Just outside Atlanta, soaring out of the landscape,
is a curious monolith called Stone Mountain.
Carved on its side is a vast memorial
to the Confederate leaders of the Civil War.
-All right, everybody,
the mountain is thought to be about 350 million years old.
Only a small portion of the mountain's actually this old...
But long before the carving was completed, people came here
to pay homage to something that happened directly as a result
of Griffith's film.
It turns out that that film was a revelation
for at least one cinemagoer.
He was a Methodist preacher and his name was William Joseph Simmons,
and he took all he'd seen and heard
and he brought it here to this mountaintop.
He was accompanied that day, the eve of Thanksgiving in 1915,
with 15 like-minded souls, and they had come for a bizarre ceremony.
What they wanted to do first of all was to build an altar.
Once it was built, Simmons placed three things on that altar -
an American flag, a Bible, and a sword unsheathed.
Then he set fire to a crudely made wooden cross.
At that moment, he declared himself to be, get this,
The Imperial Wizard of the Invisible Empire
of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The KKK was back.
But this time, the Klan would be different.
It would be political,
it would be obsessed with power,
and, most significantly of all, it would be big,
very, very big.
And with changing immigration, the Klan now had a whole new range
of targets they thought threatened the lives of Southern people.
The new Klan's focus wasn't just on black people -
Jews, Catholics and Mexicans also became targets of the organisation.
To get an insight into this second Klan,
I've come to the small estate of author William Rawlings,
just outside the town of Sandersville, in Georgia.
The Klan's mantra at this time, it's recruiting mantra was...
Can be summed up as being 100% Americanism.
Support of the Constitution, just laws, anti-immigration.
People that joined the Klan during the early 1920s joined not because
they had some agenda but because the message of the Klan was,
"We want to do a good thing for America. We want to, perhaps,
"keep these immigrants out, these Chinese in California,
"these Mexicans on the border sites."
But the new Klan was as oppressive as the first.
Say you live in a town, and the Klan is in the town, and you don't know
who the members are, but maybe
your best friend's in there, they may not be.
You don't know if the policeman on the corner is a member of the Klan.
Perhaps your minister's a member of the Klan.
And they liked it that way.
They could go to a merchant, for example, and say,
"You know, we're the Klan - we can tell people not to trade with you."
The merchant would say, "Gee, I better support the Klan."
You never knew how many people were members of the Klan.
Once they developed the reputation for not only intimidation
but action, then frequently all they had to do was simply say,
"We're watching you."
And that was all that was needed.
Klan violence directly affected William Rawlings's family.
Although they had owned a slave plantation,
everyone was a potential target.
My family had an unfortunate experience with the Klan.
Uncle Charlie was a bit of a philanderer,
I guess that's the best way to say it.
Not only did he have his girlfriends,
his interests also crossed racial lines.
He sired a number of mixed-race children, which was not exactly
the socially acceptable thing of the day to do.
He was, allegedly, according to family history, warned by the Klan,
and when he ignored them, because he was a very wealthy and powerful man,
when he ignored them, they simply waylaid him on a country road.
He had his own chauffeur, a guy named Hal Hooks, a black man.
They put a tree across the road. When Hal Hooks went to move
the tree, all of a sudden Klansmen emerged from the forest.
They told Hooks to stand to one side and they castrated Uncle Charlie.
-They castrated him,
and he lived the remainder of his life without part of his anatomy.
MUSIC: Chains And Things by BB King
How big did it get?
What was the high point?
For a very brief period of time, 1924, 1925,
they were one of the most powerful social and political organisations
in the United States -
around 5 million members at its peak in 1925.
You know, it was a tremendous number of people that joined the Klan.
Perhaps the high point of the Klan was the march in August 1925
where an estimated... As many as 150,000 robed Klansmen
marched down Pennsylvania Avenue.
It's a terribly frightening image,
to see Pennsylvania Avenue with the Capitol dome in the background,
and an endless stream of white-robed Klansmen
marching down the street.
You know, is this what America has become?
The Klan of the 1920s failed eventually
because people figured them out.
People began to say, you know,
these people are not really what I want America to be.
These people are beating, flogging, these people are judge,
jury and executioner rolled into one.
This is not the American way. We should reject the Klan.
The Klan may have been rejected,
but racial hatred and discrimination remained.
Here is one of the many places in the South where the law itself
was used to discriminate.
This is the former railway terminal building in Macon, Georgia.
It's a fantastically impressive building, big stone frontage.
Now, that's the main entrance down there
with the eagles above it and the pillars.
Off to one side, though, is a separate entrance,
and if you look above the door, look what it says...
"Colored Waiting Room."
This is a relic, an artefact of the Jim Crow laws,
which were touted as keeping the white people and the black people
of America separate but equal.
The Jim Crow laws reflected the mind-set of those that wanted
the races to be separate forever.
They not only mandated the segregation of public transport,
but public schools, public places and the segregation of restrooms,
restaurants and even drinking fountains.
Black and white lived separate but rarely equal lives.
It took until the 1950s for the Federal Court to declare
that segregation in state schools was unconstitutional.
The black population celebrated,
but the Southern states were having none of it.
I'm finishing my journey in America's Deep South
here in Alabama, the heart of the fight against civil rights.
Montgomery, the state capital, became the epicentre,
and these steps, the backdrop to much of the rhetoric.
I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before
the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now,
and segregation forever.
Governor George Wallace spoke with the mind-set of those
that elected him.
The Klan, too, raised its costumed head again.
And when around 3,000 people
attended another rally at Stone Mountain,
it was clear that the Klan was back in force for the third time,
and their tactics, again, would be violent.
The fight for the soul of the South came to its ugliest point
in the 1960s in the battle between the Civil Rights Movement
and the Klansmen.
The Klan's brazen violence and murders eventually pushed
President Johnson's federal government
to make a full-scale assault on the Ku Klux Klan.
Their loyalty is not to the United States of America,
but instead to a hooded society of bigots.
So if Klansmen hear my voice today,
let it be both an appeal
and a warning
to get out of the Ku Klux Klan now.
Leading members of the Klan were prosecuted by the FBI,
and once again America's most feared hate group appeared to be defeated.
But, despite the success of the Civil Rights Movement,
that Southern mind-set didn't go away.
It's still with us today.
In the last 50 years, there's been an explosion
of hate groups in America.
In 2015, it was estimated that there were 892 hate groups in the US,
including anti-government militias, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates
and 190 separate Ku Klux Klan groups.
The League of the South is one that is often described as a hate group.
It advocates rolling back time,
creating a separate Southern society run by Anglo-Celts.
I've got an e-mail from Dr Michael Hill,
leader of The League of the South,
and he's suggesting meeting at the post office parking lot
in Killen at 9am.
I think we have our man.
Dr Hill? Hello, I'm Neil.
-It's nice to meet you, sir.
-Nice to meet you too, sir.
-Good to be here.
-Good. Is it OK if we put a microphone on you?
I think that's one thing about Southerners, you know,
we're known for our hospitality.
But we're also very suspicious of outsiders.
Now, I'm not suspicious of you folks because I know where you come from,
and I know that, basically, you're...
You and I come from the same people.
You know, so it's different.
But people come around here from other places, and Southerners
are not so hospitable until they get to know you.
If you're a nationalist, what's your nation?
My nation is my people.
America's not my nation.
If your nation is family, what is your family?
You mean literally people who are blood?
Yes, exactly. Blood. Blood kin.
I mean, that is what a nation is.
But you know as well as I do that the Scots have always been big
on fictive kinship. You're sort of in the clan, in the family.
My family is...
and people who are related to us by genetics, back in the old country.
America's not a nation,
America is a multicultural empire.
I want nothing to do with it.
It has nothing for me.
Is the church shooting in Charleston
an inevitable consequence of that kind of grievance?
I think you just had a disturbed young man.
He doesn't come from nowhere, though?
-He doesn't pop-out...
He's from a context.
He is from a context.
The minute I saw that he had a Confederate flag, I said,
"Oh, they will take this and use it."
If the Left wants to use Dylann Roof as the archetype
of everybody that thinks like I do,
then we're going to have to have fair play on the other side.
Every time a black person kills a white person,
we're going to have to just examine that for, you know...
inside and out.
Why it happened, the circumstances, the hatred behind it,
but it doesn't get done.
How likely is it that your way of thinking will...
come to pass?
I'm a realist about this.
If you look out in the world
right now, you see that the other side looks like they're winning.
It won't win. My side will win,
mainly because it is the natural way that human beings have always lived.
This is an anomaly period that we're living in,
and I can see the end of it.
The pendulum will swing back to a more normal-type human existence.
So I think I'm on the right side of not only history
but human nature.
It's just so pessimistic and depressing to me
to think that a people,
given the opportunity to create a new world,
-and that was the expression that was in use at the time...
-Sure, I know.
They came out so full of ideas like the pursuit of happiness
and equality and religious freedom,
and all of that, and yet they created...
They were part of a world that became a misery for millions.
I find that, just, sad.
I know, but what does it tell you?
It tells you that there can be no utopias,
because man is a fallen creature and he's always going to behave
like a fallen creature.
He's always going to fuck it up.
I suppose as someone who has, perhaps,
a naive hope in the brotherhood of mankind...
If he's right, then,
I just feel...
..we're never going to get anywhere.
If there was ever an indication that history is alive, then it's here.
You know, a set of events unfolded here 200-and-odd years ago and the
consequences of them, the reality of the world that was created then,
are still 100% here.
You feel as if we're not going anywhere.
It's so dispiriting to hear someone using my Scottish ancestry
in support of views that could give rise to hatred.
I'm heading back to the state capital to get a second opinion
on Michael Hill's thinking.
Mark Potok keeps tabs on hate groups at the Southern Poverty Law Center,
and he has monitored the development of The League Of The South
for some time.
I've heard mention of the potential for a race war.
Is that just meaningless hyperbole?
Well, look, I mean a race war is the wet dream of all of these groups.
They all expect a race war, and many of them fervently hope for it.
You know, that's absolutely common
in the Klan and in neo-Nazi groups and so on.
What's been surprising is to see the evolution of a group
like The League of the South.
Mike Hill wrote, a few months ago,
an incredible essay in which he said, essentially,
"If black people think they want to have a race war,
"let me just warn them right now, they're not going to win that war."
Hill has also talked to his people,
not merely about how the South is an Anglo-Celtic wonderland,
and all this kind of thing, and we need to protect our culture,
but about the need to buy AK-47s and tools to derail trains.
You know, will this ever really come to a race war?
No, I very much doubt it.
Are there people out there who desperately
would like to see it happen?
Absolutely. I don't think
The League of the South is going to become
a huge mainstream movement, but there are really poisonous strands
in Southern culture.
I have lived in many different parts of the country,
and while many Americans will say,
"Oh, racism is just as bad in the North, it's sort of more covert,"
I'm here to say that's not true.
In the aftermath of the June 2015 Charleston massacre by Dylann Roof,
there was an enormous backlash against the Confederate battle flag
because Roof, of course, before carrying out this mass murder,
had taken many pictures of himself
displaying the Confederate battle flag.
And, as a result of that, the flag came under attack,
the governor of South Carolina ordered the Confederate battle flag
off the grounds of the state capital.
And then there was this incredible, very widespread reaction.
We counted, actually,
in the six months immediately following the Charleston massacre,
364 pro-Confederate battle flag rallies.
Does that rhetoric inform people like Dylann Roof?
I don't think Dylann Roof probably even knew what
The League of the South was. But did he connect with the kinds of ideas
that are at the centre of League of the South? Absolutely.
One of the greatest writers of the South, William Faulkner,
wrote something that seems very apt.
"The past isn't dead and buried -
"it's not even past."
And that's the point.
All the people of the South are living with history,
coping with the consequences of immigration, greed,
fear and a sequence of events that have turned this place upside down
more than once.
I come to the end of my journey at the church where this story began.
How on earth do the people who suffer the attacks here
cope with the horror of the racism that has stalked the South
since the settlers first arrived here?
Just with the thought of this interview itself...
I'm teary eyed,
to think that this is what brought us together.
I'm grateful because it gives me an opportunity to say to my brothers
and sisters around the world,
thank you for caring.
Thank you for praying for us,
and not forgetting about us.
Is there anything that ought to be forgotten,
are there any ideas that need to be put in the past
and not taken into the future?
I think that each of us, we are a sum total of our past,
our present, and our hope for the future.
And so, no, I wouldn't want to disregard the past,
I'd want to learn from it,
I'd want to grow as a result of it.
And we must embrace our individuality and celebrate it,
and not be negative as a result of it.
I believe that from this...
..can lead a path of race relations that is positive,
a path that will lead us to a place of reconciliation,
of healing, and a place of a healthier society.
Oh, hey, come on.
Scotland has exported many great things to the rest of the world, and people like Neil Oliver have often celebrated the disproportionate impact of its ideas and energy on places like America. The role of Scots in shaping the concept of the American Dream is a story often told, but could Scottish settlers have also had a hand in America's racist nightmare?
Neil Oliver travels over 2,000 miles to examine links between racism today in the Deep South and the Scottish settlers that first occupied it. Throughout the 18th century, hundreds of thousands of Scots emigrated to America, and some believe that it was their wariness and moral certainty that significantly shaped the south into an isolated, fearful society that easily took to slave-owning when the opportunity came.
Walter Scott, the creator of a romantic vision of the 'Old Country' is blamed for reinforcing their fantasy world of Georgian gentility. When that world was threatened, the southern states opted for civil war rather than give it up. After the devastating war, attitudes in the south were hardened by defeat and fear of the now-freed slaves. When six Scottish-American former Confederate officers formed a fraternal society, clan turned to Klan.
The oldest and most feared racist hate group in America - the Ku Klux Klan - was born. Now, well over 800 hate groups stalk the United States, and Neil finishes his journey by visiting the Neo-Confederate League of the South. The League advocates a return to a separate southern society run by what they call 'Anglo Celts', and Neil discovers that here Scottishness still abides and that attitudes don't seem to have changed much in the last 200-300 years.