‘It’s not a racist thing': Florida rally fights to keep mural of hooded Klansmen in county courthouse

The mural, which greets visitors as they enter the courthouse, features a small vignette with three hooded Klansmen riding horses. Although Eugene Barber, who painted the mural in 2001, has died, he left visitors a guidebook that offers a short explanation for the vignette:

When the group known as the “Radical Republicans” gained control of the state in 1868, the Reconstruction program took an unpleasant turn. … The reversed order was severely resented by a large segment of the white population. Lawlessness among ex-slaves and troublesome whites was the rule of the day. No relief was given by the carpetbag and scalawag government or by the Union troops. The result was the emergence of secret societies claiming to bring law and order to the county. One of these groups was the Ku Klux Klan, an organization that sometimes took vigilante justice to extremes but was sometimes the only control the county knew over those outside the law. The Klan faded from view at the end of Reconstruction. It had minor come-backs in the 1920’s and mid 1950’s. Since then it has become the subject of legend rather than a cause of fear.