After 150 years of fighting for a white America, on Saturday some 30-odd vehicles drove through country roads of small North Carolina town of Roxboro and town streets to show their support for Donald Trump, the right-wing populist who has stunned the world by winning the US election on a ticket marked by prejudice, misogyny and bigotry.
News of the rally brought out hundreds of protesters at dozens of counter-demonstrations held elsewhere in the southern state, dwarfing the size of the KKK’s event.
“No hate, no fear, the KKK’s not welcome here,” chanted protesters in the tiny village Pelham, rumoured at one time to be the site of the pro-Trump rally.
The movement’s brazen display of triumphalism is a symptom of what many in this divided America fear: that Trump’s shock win has unleashed unstoppable forces of hatred.
Earlier in the day, Amanda Barker, one the organisers, said Trump shared many of the values of the KKK.
“We actually kind of have the same views. A lot of white Americans felt the same way about the wall, immigration, terrorism,” she said.
Sending home Mexicans, she added, would help Americans find work more easily.
Trump’s win has already come at a cost, according to watchdogs, who report a surge in hate crimes since he claimed victory in the early hours of November 9.
The sensitivity of the issue meant KKK officers gave contradictory information about their plans, describing different locations and times for the drive-by.
Eventually, they appeared in a convoy of pickups and cars flying Confederate flags, a symbol used by the far right for its historical associations with slavery and racism.
One woman leaned from her window, twisting her face into a shout. “White power,” she screamed.
The display is a reminder that America remains a country divided by race, politics and power, despite electing its first black president in 2008.
In recent years, its activities have disappeared from public view; only a small core of members was left, posting in online message boards and delivering flyers.
But the emergence of the so-called Alt-Right—a chaotic collection of internet trolls, white supremacists and fellow travellers—suggests a new era of confidence for the far right, according to Manzoor Cheema, the founder of Muslims for Justice who helped organise a counter demonstration in the North Carolina city of Raleigh.
“These are very dangerous times and this was exactly how fascism grew in Germany,” he said.
Amanda Barker added that they planned to hold an awards dinner after the rally followed by a cross burning ceremony.
She brushed off accusations of racism, saying the group’s aim was in line with mainstream policy from the recent past.
She also raised concerns about the presence of Indians and Arabs in the US.
“We don’t know who’s here as sleeper cells,” she said.
Trump’s anti-refugee and xenophobic rhetoric won the endorsement of David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the KKK, as well as the group’s newspaper, The Crusader.
As a result, many Muslims and immigrants in the nation fear a backlash.
The KKK has campaigned for a white and Christian America since it emerged from the defeated South after the Civil War. Its bloody history includes lynchings and racial violence.