It Happened in Brooklyn

During the 1920’s, organized anti-Catholicism reached a fever pitch in America. Nowhere was this more evident than in the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, which spread beyond the South, appealing to “old stock” Protestants unhappy with Catholic growth. By 1925, estimates placed national membership at five million. This Brooklyn Tablet cover from July 21, 1923, shows policemen holding up the church sign for Our Lady of Solace parish in Coney Island, over which are painted the letters “KKK.” Believe it or not, the Klan had a strong local following. In 1922, at Brooklyn’s Washington Avenue Baptist Church, a hooded Klansman preached against the Catholic threat to the American way of life. In Queens, crosses were burned in front of several churches. In Lynbrook, at the 1923 Firemen’s Tournament, the Klan’s ladies auxiliary was chosen the most popular organization. In Suffolk, where Klansmen controlled the Republican Committee, stores carried signs reading “TWAK” (“Trade Only With a Klansman”). But the Catholics weren’t leaving. As longtime Tablet editor Patrick Scanlan put it in 1929, “Between the Church and a successful football team there is an analogy. Both have to fight.”

About Pat McNamara

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