Longreads

Elizabeth Gillespie McRae | Excerpt adapted from Mothers of Massive Resistance: White Women and the Politics of White Supremacy | February 2018 | 19 minutes (5,394 words)

In the late fall of 1923, a young Nell Battle Lewis decided to spend an evening at the Superba Theater in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, watching Birth of a Nation for the fifth time. Reviewing the film in her Raleigh News and Observer column “Incidentally,” Lewis noted that each time D. W. Griffith’s movie came to town, she had to see it. This was her sort of “religious observance.” Birth of a Nation, she wrote, was “the best movie we’ve ever seen.” It made her weep and drove her to exclaim, “This is my native land.” She went on to claim that the first KKK was “a necessary tour de force effected by some of the leaders of a . . …

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