Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media

Committee Chair

Steven Urbanski.


The White supremacy group, the Ku Klux Klan was formed in 1866, after the end of the Civil War, in the small town of Pulaski, TN, by six ex-Confederate soldiers. Over the last 143 years the Klan has tried to take full advantage of the media in order to reach the largest audience possible to make its voice heard and spread its ideologies of hate towards African Americans and other minority groups. This study focuses on the similarities and differences in the Klan's portrayal of African Americans between two great technological advances used by the Klan---motion pictures from the twentieth century and Internet websites from the twenty-first century. The study also takes into account the changes and advancements that have taken place in American society culturally that can aid in the explanation of the similarities and differences that exist in the Klan's portrayal of African Americans in the mass media in order to justify the organization and use of recruitment.;The study was conducted using a qualitative content analysis and guided by the cultural approach to organizations theory, as well as semiotics. The sample included The Birth of a Nation, The Toll of Justice,,;The results of this study indicate that the Ku Klux Klan's portrayal of African Americans in its media propaganda have not changed significantly from the twentieth century to the current time. The two films and two websites mirror each other in that one of each type of medium was found to be more overtly racist than the other of the same medium. Both mediums place great emphasis on the group's denouncement of interracial romantic relationships, as well as African Americans being less intelligent and humane than whites. The biggest difference found was that the films rely heavily on pointing out the physical appearance of African Americans, while the websites focus more on "facts and statistics".;The findings of this study would suggests that despite many claims that American society has taken great strides in accepting minorities and making changes that some aspects of our culture never change. Humans will always be afraid of losing power over their own lives, including their land, their family, their jobs and money, and even their respect as human being. This fear is especially strong when the loss may be caused by someone presumed to be less deserving than them. The Ku Klux Klan has continued to spin the same web for centuries to build a white supremacist culture based on fear and power. It has moved from print, to film, and in current time to the Internet, which in itself spins a web of reality created by the user connecting anything he or she wishes, and in the Klan's case a world wide web of hatred and discrimination against African Americans and other minorities.