1923 October 21

Boston Mayor Curley Bans KKK Meetings, ACLU Protests


Boston Mayor James Curley, one of the most colorful figures in American political history, on this day banned Ku Klux Klan meetings in Boston. This incident was one of many around the country in the 1920s when cities banned the KKK and, because of NAACP protests, banned or considered banning the film, Birth of a Nation. (See the protests over the film on March 3, 1915.)

Mayor Curley justified banning the KKK meeting on the grounds that he had a duty to prevent “riot, disorder, or worse” that might result from the meeting.

Mayor Curley also famously banned birth control advocate Margaret Sanger from speaking in the city in 1923, 1924, 1925 and 1929. After being banned from speaking in 1929, she appeared on stage, on April 16, 1929, with a gag over her mouth. The ACLU protested both bans.

See photos of Mayor Curley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1V6ipQ4eLrg

See the KKK march in Washington in the 1920s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UomPUYgxSTY

Read about Mayor Curley’s colorful career: Jack Beatty, The Rascal King: The Life and Times of James Michael Curley, 1874–1958 (2000)

Learn about the KKK today: http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/ideology/ku-klux-klan

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