Primary sources serve as direct evidence to facts. They provide information from resources that are highly related to the described events or phenomena (Bodden 28). In order to select the primary sources correctly, it is necessary to evaluate their reliability. The purpose of this paper is to analyze one of the primary sources related to Ku Klux Klan (KKK) history.
The title of the source is “Testimony of Victims of the Ku Klux Klan (1935)”. It is a compilation of three oral testimonies written in the first person. It is not known who has transcribed them; however, the authors of the testimonies are Pierce Harper, Sue Craft, and Morgan Ray. The paper was compiled in 1935. The source was produced to exhibit the way the Klan was harassing and torturing the African-American population to deprive them of their unalienable rights (Gorn et al. 230). These testimonies serve as a source of evidence proving that the methods employed by the supporters of the clan were terroristic in their character.
Each of the descriptions was an account of violence. The first witness was Pierce Harper. Harper told the story of a man who was hanged because he was making a good living on his farm. The witness stressed that the KKK destroyed such facilities as schools and ensured that the African-American population would not receive proper litigation (“The Victims of the Ku Klux Klan”).
In one of the stories told by Harper, a white woman said that some of her personal items had been stolen. Because of the incident, several black individuals were imprisoned, and members of the clan had been able to enter the prison facility to kill them. The population was frightened and had to turn to the governor for help.
In Sue Craft’s testimony, she stated that African Americans were not the only ones to suffer from such form of terrorism. According to her, a white educator was threshed for teaching African-American students. In addition, the woman’s father had to protect their family with a gun (“The Victims of the Ku Klux Klan”). In his turn, Morgan Ray told a story of how he became a witness to a crime. He saw that members of the KKK had caught a man and killed him. Ray could not stop them and did not say anything because he was scared.
Questions and Frame of Reference
The source raised an important question whether the clan was intending to reconstruct a pre-civil war society or if their activities were purely terroristic (Frantz Parsons 303). The three accounts from victims showed the way people were lynched and persecuted. Based on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the African-American population was equaled in their rights with the rest of citizens (Newton 7). Therefore, it can be assumed that the Ku Klux Klan targeted at returning the black population to the state of slavery so that certain white individuals could regain state control.
The frame of reference is rather interesting. The source does not say anything about the transcriber while it reveals quite a lot about the witnesses (Klein 17). The person who wrote the accounts down had spelled the words in the way they were pronounced by the speakers. The key implication of that frame of reference was to exhibit the colloquial language characteristic of former slaves.
The most powerful line of the document belongs to Morgan Ray. He said, “I just went on my sweet way” (“The Victims of the Ku Klux Klan”). It denotes that people were so deeply scared of the clan that they were happy when they could return back home safely without being harassed, assaulted or beaten.
Thus, it can be concluded that the source under analysis is a series of oral histories. They were gathered from former slaves who suffered from the KKK. The texts are a significant source of evidence regarding the way African Americans have been deprived of their rights.
Bodden, Valerie. Analyze and Define the Assignment. Lerner Publications, 2015.
Frantz Parsons, Elaine. Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction. UNC Press Books, 2015.
Gorn, Elliott J., et al. Constructing the American Past: A Source Book of a People’s History. 7th ed., Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011.
Klein, Wolfgang. Time in Language. Routledge, 2013.
Newton, Michael. White Robes and Burning Crosses: A History of the Ku Klux Klan from 1866. McFarland, 2014.
“The Victims of the Ku Klux Klan (1935)”. Web.