May 17, 1924 - ND Students vs. the KKK

Notre Dame vs. The KlanDuring the 1920s, Indiana was a hot bed for Klan activity. For weeks leading up this weekend, Notre Dame students were aware of a rally to be held in downtown South Bend. There were plans for a parade and Klan members were planning to gather in a public park.

When off-campus students woke up on Saturday morning, they already saw some men dressed in white robes directing traffic. Notre Dame President Matthew Walsh largely tried to ignore the Klan presence and tensions, but this morning sent out a letter to every dorm imploring students to stay on campus. Rumors quickly spread that the Klan was burning a cross somewhere on campus and the President's letter was quickly forgotten.

Some students hurried to the train station and sent the Klansmen they found there heading back out of town. Other students rushed downtown and pummeled through groups of Klansmen. The Klan members quickly retreated and the students pushed towards the headquarter at Wayne and Michigan. In the window a red light cross was lit. The students hurled potatoes popping each light with quarterback Harry Stuhldreher taking out the last bulb. A student representative went in to talk with the members and they struck a deal that the parade could continue if there were no robes or revolvers present. The parade would never happen though as it was cancelled due to "the weather."

The pro-Notre Dame police department and the pro-Klan sheriff's department mostly stayed out of the encounter between the students and Klan members. The students triumphed in their victory of keeping the Klan out of town and compared robes that they hold stolen. The weekend rally appeared to end early, with a victory for the students. But this wouldn't be the only interaction between the two groups.

To learn more about the interactions between Notre Dame and the KKK, read Todd Tucker's book Notre Dame vs. The Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan.

Keywords: ku klux klan, father walsh, harry stuhldreher

Posted On: 2012-05-18 05:55:17 by IrishTrpt07
Edited On: 2012-05-18 13:23:40 by IrishTrpt07


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