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The Day Notre Dame Students Pummeled the Ku Klux Klan

One fine May morning in 1924, the Ku Klux Klan gathered for a rally in South Bend, Indiana. They had high hopes of engaging a crowd with their fiery speeches. After all, they were in friendly territory.

Fresh off a controversial leadership election in Indianapolis, Indiana, there was no reason for Klansmen to have any apprehension about holding a morale booster in South Bend. Indiana was Klan territory, with an estimated one in three native born white men sworn members within state lines. Just a few months later, Klansman Ed Jackson would be elected governor.

It was only when Klansmen found themselves guided into alleys and surrounded by an irate gang of Catholic students from nearby Notre Dame University that they realized mobilizing in South Bend may have been a very bad idea.

The Klan wanted a rally. What they got was a full-scale riot.

That was not the reaction the Klan was used to at the time. Read the story of that riot and the pushback that continued for days afterward, at Mental Floss.


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