In February 2019, some social media users began to spread an image that supposedly showed a group of women in Ku Klux Klan robes holding a sign reading “Women of the Democrat Party”:
Although this image is a vintage photograph that captured a group of women wearing KKK garb, the wording on the sign they’re holding has been digitally manipulated. The original version of this photograph actually showed a placard reading “Lancaster County” rather than “Women of the Democrat Party”:
The original picture was taken circa 1925 and depicts a branch of the KKK from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, arriving in Washington, D.C., for a white supremacist parade. It is available via Getty Images, where it is captioned: “K.K.K. Arrive at Washington. Photo shows women members of the Klan from Lancaster County Pa.”
Though the caption did not state exactly when the photograph was taken, it was likely shot in August 1925, when more than 50,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan came together in the nation’s capital to take part in a parade featuring tens of thousands of Klan members:
On August 8, 1925, more than 50,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded through Washington, D.C. Some walked in lines as wide as 20 abreast, while others created formations of the letter K or a Christian cross. A few rode on horseback. Many held American flags. Men and women alike, the marchers carried banners emblazoned with the names of their home states or local chapters, and their procession lasted for more than three hours down a Pennsylvania Avenue lined with spectators. National leaders of the organization were resplendent in colorful satin robes and the rank and file wore white, their regalia adorned with a circular red patch containing a cross with a drop of blood at its center.
Here’s a comparison of the doctored image (left) and the original photograph (right):
This was far from the first time that images of the Ku Klux Klan were doctored for political purposes. We’ve previously debunked fabricated photographs supposedly showing President Donald Trump’s parents, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and former U.S. senator Robert Byrd in KKK robes. (Byrd was a KKK member at one time, but the viral picture of him in KKK garb was digitally manipulated.)
Old images of the Klan have also been shared with the suggestion that Democrats “founded” the KKK, or that the Democratic Convention in 1924 was commonly referred to as the “Klanbake.” (They didn’t, and it wasn’t). More about the hate group’s history of influence on both the Republican and Democratic parties can be read here.
Rothman, Joshua. “When Bigotry Paraded Through the Streets.”
The Atlantic. 4 December 2016.
Smith, Laura. “The KKK Started a Branch Just for Women in the 1920s, And Half a Million Joined.”
Timeline. 28 June 2017.
Kim, Chloe. “Ku Klux Klan Not Founded by the Democratic Party.”
Associated Press. 23 October 2018.