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The KKK of the late 1860's bears no resemblance to the thugs and racists of the new Klan formed at the turn of the century. The Klan Forrest rode with was to fight against the Yankee scalawags and carpetbaggers who were raping the south after the war. US. Army occupation forces committed innumerable atrocities, which today would certainly be classified as international war crimes, much of it against the free blacks. General Forrest joined a citizen militia then called the Klan to protect the citizens of the South, black and white alike, from these vicious atrocities.
At a time when the northern states were passing laws 'forbidding' blacks to live in their territories, Bedford Forrest publicly, and at great personal risk defended the civil rights of the black people. Forrest said there was no reason black people could not be doctors, store clerks, bankers, or in any other jobs 'equal' to whites. He said they were skilled artisans and needed to be employed in those skills so that successive 'black' generations would not be dependent on a welfare society. (Forrest was a man of vision). To prove his point, when he organized the Memphis & Selma Railroad, Forrest took it upon himself to hire blacks as architects, construction engineers, foremen, train engineers, conductors, and many other high level jobs, not just laborer positions. (The first affirmative action).