Systemic racism and discrimination against African Americans is encrusted throughout the US history. One of the biggest examples of the black massacre was the Red Summer of 1919. The term was coined James Weldon Johnson, civil rights activist, and author who wrote ‘Negro National Anthem’.
1917 to 1923 was a spectator to series of cold-blooded mob lynching, killing, and hanging of African Americans mostly out of spite because of the African American’s economic success. Alice M. Carnegie scholar and professor at School of Law at Howard University said “During the massacres, they murdered and maimed people indiscriminately, unprovoked. They went into homes, stole personal belongings, and burned down homes. They used the massacres as a cover to murder without sanction, maim without sanction, and steal without sanction. No one, to this day, has been held accountable.”
But 1919 holds a special place in history for being the first time the blacks revolted back and fought for their safety. The revolt and rots took place in more than 36 cities and rural counties including, Reason behind the riots against the American Africans.
The Great Migration- Although it started during World War-I it continued till 1940. Due to the mobilization of troops, men and boys of the US were away from homes. Also, immigration from Europe was banned which resulted in a shortage of manpower. More than 500,000 African Americans migrated to the Midwest and northwestern states of the US. The success of the blacks and them doing the jobs which were previously done by the white majority led to the development of spite in the hearts of civilians.
Rise of the ‘New Negros’- Many people believed there was an awakening within the African American community. The black veterans who returned from war were shocked to find the injustice they fought against abroad was still prevalent in their home.
Fight for jobs and economic success- With demobilization, the troops came back home and that created excess of labor, and whites demanded their jobs back. Also, the economic success of the community-led to hatred among the white community.
Elaine, Arkansas 30th September-
A Union was organized by the African American sharecroppers who were cheated in their business by the unscrupulous activities of the white sharecroppers. As many as 800 Blacks were killed in the riots which according to official reports began when a white man was shot by a black guarding the church were Union meeting was going on. This lead to an uprising and their town sheriff aided the white masses to wreak havoc all around, kill the oppressed, and destroy property.
Georgia, April 13th-
Carsewell Grove Baptist Church, various properties including 3 black Masonic lodges in Millen was destroyed by riots. Casualties included six deaths too.
Washington DC July 19th-
‘The Race Riot of 1919’ was sparked by the death of a 22-year-old war veteran Randall Neal. This was one of the worst riots of 1919. The official death toll was 15. 10 white men and 5 from the black population. For the first time in the history of riots and discriminatory killing of blacks, the number of deaths was higher on the white community.
Norfolk, Virginia July 21st-
A homecoming celebration for African American veterans of the war turned into a bloody scene when six were shot out of spite.
Chicago July 27-August 12
Chicago race riots were one of the worst massacres that spread over a period. It all began when an African American boy Eugene Williams swam into the South Side of Chicago’s beaches, along Lake Michigan. The beaches in question were strictly segregated and the trespasses instigated the white masses to stone and drown the youth. The white mobs were led by ethnic Irishmen and the police refused to render help which led to the riot going on for 2 weeks. Casualties included 38 deaths, over 500 injured, and thousands of black families without a home, job, or any possessions.
Out of the 3 dozen cities, these are some of the places in the US that saw ravages of the Red Summer in 1919. The atrocity against the oppressed is not a new topic and humanity owes to all the black victims of segregation, and racism a long due justice and equality.