1928 October 24

Doctor Demands Candidate Herbert Hoover Take a Stand on the Klan


Dr. B. M. Rhetta, an African-American doctor from Baltimore on this day sent an open letter to Herbert Hoover, Republican candidate for president of the United States, demanding that he take a “definite stand” on the issue of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan, which had considerable power nationally in the 1920s, was very active in the 1928 presidential election cycle, organizing attacks on Democratic Party candidate Al Smith because he was a Catholic. See the events on April 18, 1927 and September 18, 1928.

Hoover was personally opposed to racial discrimination, but hoped to win Southern states’ electoral votes in the election. In short, he had a “Southern strategy” similar to the one made famous by Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election. Hoover tried to duck the issue and remained silent about the Klan.

Learn more about the history of the Klan: David Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan (1981, 1987)

Watch the Klan march in Washington in 1925: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv4xHcK63cQ

Learn more about African American history: Henry Louis Gates, Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513-2008 (2011)

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