At One Time Binghamton Was the New York State Headquarters for the KKK
It’s a story that many of us have heard for all of our lives – at one time, Binghamton was the New York State Headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan. Sadly, the stories passed down through the generations were true.
The Ku Klux Klan often called the KKK, is a white supremacy hate group made up of individuals who through the years have targeted African Americans, Jews, Latinos, Asian Americans, Catholics, Native Americans, immigrants, leftists, homosexuals, Muslims, and atheists.
Due to extremely fierce opposition to their views and practices, the Ku Klux Klan found themselves forced out of New York City in the 1920s and so they moved their operation north to Binghamton where they set up state headquarters in 1923.
The Klan experienced a surge of popularity in the 1920s and at the height of it, there were an estimated three to six million members. In New York State, the number was estimated to be 80,000 and in Binghamton, membership was estimated to be about 2,500.
Jay Rubin, a 1973 graduate of Binghamton University wrote a book called “The Forgotten Kapital: The Ku Klux Klan in Binghamton, 1923-1928” and in the book explained that thankfully, by 1928, the Klan was no longer relevant in Binghamton and packed up operations here.
In a beautifully ironic twist, while headquartered in Binghamton, the Ku Klux Klan was set up in a building at the corner of Wall Street and Henry Street. Today, that very same spot is a parking lot which is located directly across from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Promenade.