Clan of the Fiery Cross

In 1946, human rights activist Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the KKK. Concerned that the organization had links to police forces, Kennedy decided to use his findings to strike at the Klan in a different way. He contacted the producers of the ‘Superman’ radio show and proposed a story where the superhero battles the Klan. Looking for new villains, the producers eagerly agreed.

To that end, he provided information—including secret codewords and details of Klan rituals—to the writers. The result was a series of episodes, ‘Clan of the Fiery Cross,’ in which Superman took on the Klan. Kennedy intended to strip away the Klan’s mystique. The trivialization of the Klan’s rituals and codewords was perceived to have had a negative impact on Klan recruiting and membership. Reportedly, Klan leaders denounced the show and called for a boycott of Kellogg’s products. However, the story arc earned spectacular ratings, and the food company stood by its support of the show.

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