The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer:
Lynching had historically been the Klan’s emblematic act. But there had not been a hanging since 1955; the end of the era of lynching and the birth of the civil rights movement had coincided. By resurrecting it, the Klansmen were attempting to bring back the old times when hooded night riders roamed the southern night, meting out what they called justice to frightened, intimidated black people.
The Klan’s other strong symbol was the burning cross, and Bennie, Henry, and Knowles agreed that on the evening of the lynching, a fiery cross would illuminate the nighttime sky. They wanted black people to know that wherever they went, whatever they did, they too might feel a rope around their neck, and they should fear Klan justice.