The Black Legion
was an organization that splintered from the Ku Klux Klan
and operated in the United States
in the 1930s. The organization was founded by William Shepard in east central Ohio
. The group's total membership, estimated between 20,000 and 30,000, was centered in Detroit, Michigan
, though the Legion was also highly active in Ohio and one of its self-described leaders, Virgil "Bert" Effinger
, lived and worked in Lima, Ohio
The Associated Press described the organization on May 31, 1936, as
- a group of loosely federated night-riding bands operating in several States without central discipline or common purpose beyond the enforcement by lash and pistol of individual leaders' notions of "Americanism."
The death of WPA worker Charles Poole, kidnapped and murdered in southwest Detroit, caused authorities to finally arrest and successfully try and convict a group of twelve men, thereby ending its reign of terror.
Organisation and structure
The Black Legion was organized along paramilitary lines and had five brigades, 16 regiments, 64 battalions, and 256 companies. Although its members boasted that there were one million legionnaires in Michigan, it probably had only between 20,000 and 30,000 members in the state in the 1930s, one third of whom lived in Detroit.
Members wore black uniforms with skull-and-crossbones
insignia and were allegedly responsible for numerous murders of alleged communists and socialists, notably Earl... Read More