That Time Radio Defeated The KKK [AUDIO]
It's hard for most of us today to understand, but there was a time when the cheapest and most popular forms of entertainment were reading and listening to the radio. Radio was probably more popular even then reading, as it brought the world to the listener through news reports and other special programming. Radio dramas allowed listeners to imagine every story possible, from crime, sci - fi, suspense, horror, comedy, and even superhero adventures.
In post - WW II America, the KKK was on the rise. It had new political influence and its membership was growing exponentially. Many Americans were worried that the hate that had just been defeated in Nazi Germany might return in the United States. One of these Americans was folklorist and activist Stetson Kennedy, who successfully joined a KKK chapter to learn as much about the secret society that he could. Kennedy took the information he learned to the authorities but found that they wouldn't act on it because they were afraid of the KKK's growing power.
Kennedy was forced to get creative. He knew that 'The Adventures of Superman' radio show was a sensation with kids, and asked the show's creators if they could help expose the Klan's secrets. The creators of the show jumped at the chance, because they believed the Klan needed to be stopped and because they were searching for new villains for Superman to face.
Beginning on June 10, 1946, a 16 - part series began called 'The Clan of The Fiery Cross.' Not only did Superman get involved in defeating the Klan in the story itself, but each episode revealed the secrets on Klan operations that Kennedy had learned when he joined. KKK code words and even rituals were described in detail on the radio show. By the time the 16 - parter finished airing, Klan membership was down and mystery that the KKK used to recruit its members was gone completely.
You can listen to the entire 'Clan of The Fiery Cross' radio series on YouTube. The first episode is below. You can also order a book written about Superman's fight with the KKK here.