by Darrel Dexter and John A. Beadles
Southern Illinois University Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-0-8093-3943-3 | Paper: 978-0-8093-3942-6
Library of Congress Classification HS2330.K63D49 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 322.420977390904


Unmasking old-time racism in southern Illinois

Pulling off the Sheets tells the previously obscured history of the Second Ku Klux Klan which formed in deep southern Illinois in the early 1920s. Through meticulous research into both public and private records, Darrel Dexter and John A. Beadles recount the Klan’s mythical origins, reemergence, and swift disappearance. This important historical account sets out to expose the lasting impact of the Klan on race relations today.

The ideation of the Klan as a savior of the white race and protector of white womanhood was perpetuated by books, plays, and local news sources of the time. The very real but misplaced fear of Black violence on whites created an environment in which the Second Klan thrived, and recruitment ran rampant in communities such as the Protestant church. Events like the murder of Daisy Wilson intensified the climate of racial segregation and white supremacy in the region, and despite attempts at bringing justice to the perpetrators, most failed. The Second Klan’s presence may have been short-lived, but the violence and fear it inflicted continues to linger.

This disturbing historical account challenges readers to “pull back the sheet” and confront the darkest corners of their past. Dexter and Beadles emphasize the importance of acknowledging the damage that white supremacy and racism cause and how we can move toward healing.