The marchers paraded through downtown with signs: “God, Country and Home” and “White Supremacy.”
It was a December parade along Houston and Main streets with lots of Christian crosses, but no spirit of Christmas or Christ.
In December 1924, the masked and hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan weren’t marching to show God’s love. They were marching to show bigotry remained in power in Fort Worth.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
The parade report described “phantom throngs” of 5,000 marching through downtown with an airplane flying overhead lighted to look like a burning cross.
Later, the night after Christmas, the local Klan No. 101 honored its “Exalted Cyclops,” attorney Julian C. Hyer. The klavern claimed a membership of 7,000, “all of whom wish for you a Merry Christmas and a Most Prosperous and Happy New Year.”
At the time, Fort Worth developer Brown Harwood was the second highest-ranking national Klansman. Dallas and Fort Worth were two of the most Klan-riddled cities in America.
It was after the first World War, another time in America when lots of white Protestants resented foreign immigration and feared political conspiracy.
Instead of today’s calls to fight the “Islamization” or “Latinization” of America — and turn back Indian-born Shahid Shafi as a Republican Party officer, or reject asylum for all 8,000 Central American children and teenagers sleeping this Christmas in Texas detention camps — the Klan of Christmas 1924 had more targets: “the Jews, the Catholics, the negroes, the alien-born.”
In the 1920s, when a rejuvenated Klan seized control of Texas and the South — winning a U.S. Senate seat, taking over cities and county courts — Christmas also became the time for the Klan to buy friends.
Sadly, some Texas newspapers cheered it on.
Under the headline, “Ku Klux Santa Claus Gives $1,000 to Cheer Poor,” the Star-Telegram reported giddily on the local klavern.
“Is there a Santa Claus in that ‘Invisible Empire’ … where they have grand goblins, imperial wizards and all those other mysterious things? There must be,” the newspaper reported, listing the klansmen’s gifts to several charities.
The Beaumont Journal reported: “About 100 orphans are going to be among the happiest kids in Beaumont when the Beaumont Knights of the Ku Klux Klan play Santa Claus.”
In the Texas town of Whitesboro, the Klan gave a widow and her children a dressed hog.
After that 1924 parade through Fort Worth, Imperial WIzard Hiram Evans, a Dallas dentist, ended his address this way:
“The Klan will protest against the habit of many Europeans in looking down on womanhood and will protest against the code of loose living that is so prevalent in France. …
“It is our people that make this country the greatest on earth. Therefore, if our people become contaminated, our greatness dwindles.”
Texans had already begun to realize that white nationalism had nothing to do with Christmas or Christ.