PITTSFIELD — Author Mark Alan Leslie is scheduled to talk about “Maine Burning: The Ku Klux Klan Invasion” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at Pittsfield Public Library, 110 Library St. Leslie will tell the tale of the rise and fall of KKK organization which, now and again, still makes headlines in Maine today, according to a news release from the library.

The state of Maine and the Ku Klux Klan seems an improbable combination. But the organization took root in Maine in the 1920s and in Pittsfield and Newport, reaching such heights that it helped elect Gov. Ralph Owen Brewster, the mayors of Rockland, Bath, Westbrook and Saco, the president of the Maine Senate from Belfast and other political leaders.

“While African-Americans were few in Maine at that time, the KKK’s targets were French-Canadians, Catholics and Irish and Polish immigrants as well as Jews,” said Leslie, according to the release. “And were they effective! The Klan’s Maine membership reached a reported 150,000, nearly 20 percent of the state’s population, in 1923-25.”

The Pittsfield area was a fruitful territory for the Klan’s recruitment. When the organization held its first state conclave in a forest outside Waterville in 1923, nearly 15,000 attended. Although Augusta Mayor Ernest L. McLean caused the cancellation of a rally and parade in the state capital in May 1926, parades were held in Dexter, Milo, Gardiner, Brewer, Portland and elsewhere, according to the release.

Waterville’s Klavern boasted 650 members, compared to 1,000 in both Bangor and Lewiston-Auburn.

The Monmouth resident’s fictional novel, “The Crossing,” is a sweeping — and ultimately uplifting — look at the organization’s impact on a small western Maine town in 1923, according to the release.

Leslie earned Featured Book status from Publishers Weekly for his 2015 book, “True North: Tice’s Story,” a novel about the Underground Railroad in Maine.

For more information, contact Lyn Smith at the library at [email protected] or 487-5880.

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