We must remember that the KKK was a white terrorist organization that intimidated and killed African Americans to prevent their participation in the democratic process and to keep them in what would become debt peonage. The KKK enforced racial control and white dominance through well-publicized violence. The Lost Cause and Margaret Mitchell would have us believe that the great threat to the South was the freedmen and the U.S. Army. Yet the four million recently freed ex-slaves suffered from violence far more. Thousands died trying to vote at the hands of white terror groups, not only the Klan, but also its many imitators. The Lost Cause myth propagated by Mitchell and bought by white southerners for a hundred years served as the ideological underpinning of a violently racist society.
Ty Seidule, Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause (2020), p. 38
With Knowles' testimony, an Alabama jury convicted Henry Hays of first-degree murder and sentenced him to life in prison, but the judge, in a nearly unprecedented move, overruled the jury's verdict and sentenced him to die. On June 6, 1997, the state of Alabama executed Hays in Yellow Mama for the murder of Michael Donald. The first white person to die for murdering an African American in Alabama since 1913. Then the Southern Poverty Law Center sued the United Klans of America (UKA) for conspiracy in the murder of Michael Donald. An all-white jury found the UKA guilty and ordered them to pay $7 million to Donald's mother. The successful lawsuit bankrupted the UKA. The New York Times trumpeted, "The Woman Who Beat the Klan."
Ty Seidule, Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause (2020), p. 106