According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, racially motivated hatred is being stoked by President Donald Trump. Considering the president’s appointment of advisors with ties to the radical right; his use of disparaging language in reference to African nations; and tone-deaf tweets following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia — white nationalist groups are emboldened.
Of all hate groups espousing a white supremacist ideology, neo-Nazi groups grew the fastest, from 99 groups in 2016 to 121 in 2017.
The bulk of the increase in the number of hate groups operating in the United States appears to be a backlash to the reinvigorated white supremacy movement. Black nationalist groups are characterized by anti-white and anti-Semitic views, and they generally oppose integration and interracial marriage. The number of such groups in the United States climbed from 193 in 2916 to 233 in 2017, the largest increase of any hate group ideology.
Increasing numbers of neo-Nazi and black nationalist groups juxtapose a decline in the number of Ku Klux Klan chapters — the oldest hate group in the United States. The SPLC counted 72 KKK chapters in 2017, down from 130 the previous year and the lowest in at least the last 18 years. Still, the KKK maintains a strong presence in the South, particularly in Alabama and Mississippi.
In some of the states with high concentrations of hate groups, there is a centuries-long history of hate. In the early 20th century, for example, Indiana was a stronghold of the national Ku Klux Klan movement. With an estimated membership of 250,000 by 1923, the Indiana Klan had the largest KKK membership in the country, which included the governor of the state, more than half the state legislature, and 30% of the state’s white male population. While the KKK’s power and membership has declined since, there are still several active hate groups affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan in Indiana today.
Similarly, although Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union, a majority of the Civil War was fought in the state and in Virginia. Today the SPLC counts six active hate groups affiliated with the neo-Confederate ideology in Tennessee, tied with Florida as the most of any state.
Few states were a greater hotbed of racial tension during the civil rights movement than Alabama. Over the decade since the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 to the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965, the American public was made aware of how African Americans were being treated in the South. These events and others marked defining moments of the civil rights movement. The legacy of racial tension is still apparent today, evidenced by the large number of racially charged hate groups in the state. Of the 23 active hate groups the SPLC identified in the state, 21 are preoccupied by racial identity.
To identify the states with the highest concentration of hate groups, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of hate groups in each state for every 1 million state residents according to data provided by non-profit civil rights advocacy group Southern Poverty Law Center. To be considered for our ranking, a state needed to have at least 10 active hate groups. Rather than reviewing such factors as history of violence, SPLC identifies hate groups by ideology. These organizations claim that entire groups of human beings are evil by virtue of their class characteristics (e.g., race, religion, origin, gender and so on). For the SPLC, to be considered, groups also needed to be active in the year they are listed. Activity is deemed as on-the-ground activity such as holding rallies or simply accepting memberships and selling literature. SPLC provided the names of all hate groups tracked in each state for every year between 2000 and 2017.
We also reviewed the foreign-born population in each state (the immigrant population), as well as a range of social and economic data, including the percentage of adults 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree, the percentage of each state’s population that is white, poverty rates, and median household income. These data came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey. Annual unemployment rates for 2016 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.