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CICERO © 2008. CAUSE OF THE RIOTS African-American author, James Weldon Johnson first used the term, “Red Summer.” The race riots of 1919 had many causes:

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Presentation on theme: "CICERO © 2008. CAUSE OF THE RIOTS African-American author, James Weldon Johnson first used the term, “Red Summer.” The race riots of 1919 had many causes:"— Presentation transcript:

1 CICERO © 2008

2 CAUSE OF THE RIOTS African-American author, James Weldon Johnson first used the term, “Red Summer.” The race riots of 1919 had many causes: increasing inflation, escalating unemployment, and raging racism. Inflation soared in the United States after World War I, and the demobilization of the American military led to higher rates of unemployment. This exacerbated racial tension between whites and blacks who were competing for jobs. James Weldon Johnson first used the term “Red Summer.”

3 CICERO © 2008 CAUSE OF THE RIOTS The Red Scare, an American fear of communist infiltration into American life, emerged. African Americans began to talk of their desires for racial equality. Many whites did not believe blacks deserved equal rights, although slavery had been outlawed in America since African Americans were branded as “radicals.” Many whites thought African Americans supported communism’s message of equality. Communist Jamaican poet Claude McKay wrote poetry based on “radical” African Americans.

4 CICERO © 2008 CHARLESTON AND LONGVIEW RACE RIOTS The Charleston Race Riot occurred on May 10, 1919, in Charleston, South Carolina. Two African Americans were killed. The Longview Race Riot began in Longview, Texas, on July 10, 1919, after an article appeared in the Chicago magazine, Defender. The magazine stated an African American, Lemuel Walters, was in love with a white woman; and he would have married her if the two lived in the North. Walters was imprisoned for this statement. Some time later, the town sheriff handed Walters over to a white mob, and he was murdered. African Americans in the region were incensed. This prompted the riot in Longview. This newspaper clipping describes the Longview Race Riot.

5 CICERO © 2008 WASHINGTON, D.C., RACE RIOT The Washington, D.C., Race Riot occurred on July 19, An African-American man was accused of harassing a white woman. The woman organized a group of men on the night of July 19 and went looking for African Americans. One African American was severely injured, and another was killed.

6 CICERO © 2008 CHICAGO RACE RIOT The Chicago Race Riot was the most violent of the riots during the Red Summer. The riot lasted from July 27 to August 3. Chicago was unlike most cities in the South because public places were not segregated. Most people believe that even before 1915, Chicago was known as a city in which African Americans were treated well. An increasing number of blacks started moving to Chicago around 1910, as it was one of the main destinations during the Great Migration when African Americans left the South of segregation and lynchings. The states in blue gained the most African Americans during the Great Migration. The red states lost the most African Americans.

7 CICERO © 2008 CHICAGO RACE RIOT When European immigration was curtailed at the end of World War I, the African- American population in Chicago increased one hundred forty-eight percent between 1916 and While first settling in the southern part of the city, African Americans eventually moved into Irish neighborhoods. The two groups competed for housing and employment in Chicago. Whites from the South also migrated to Chicago for employment, and this created more tension. Segregation also began to be enforced, and African Americans were isolated into the South Side of Chicago where eighty-five percent of the city’s African Americans resided by Chicago Race Riots

8 CICERO © 2008 CHICAGO RACE RIOT Returning World War I veterans returned to Chicago expecting to be rehired at the jobs they had held before the war. African-American workers now held some of those jobs, and they also were competing for employment with African-American veterans of World War I. Many white veterans were hostile toward African-American veterans who thought they deserved better treatment since they had fought for the United States in World War I. In addition, Chicago had many athletic and social clubs, some tied to the city government. Their members were immigrants who developed political strength and credibility within their clubs’ membership. Chicago’s white gangs began attacking African Americans in the South Side neighborhoods. City police did little to stop the violence inflicted on the African- American population. Newspapers did not report these crimes, yet they always mentioned when an African American was in trouble with the law.

9 CICERO © 2008 CHICAGO RACE RIOT Thirty-eight people were killed in the Chicago Race Riot. Twenty-three were African Americans, and fifteen were white. The violence began on July 27, 1919, when a young African American, Eugene Williams, drowned after a group of whites assaulted him. When a white police officer did not arrest the white man who threw the rock that caused Williams to drown, the riots began. The rioting and violence increased when the same police officer arrested an African-American man. White men search for African Americans during the Chicago Race Riot of 1919.

10 CICERO © 2008 CHICAGO RACE RIOT At first, Chicago newspapers only listed the injuries to white people during the riot. However, the white police force’s conduct was questioned, and many Chicagoans wondered why African Americans were arrested instead of the white instigators. Blacks were accused initially of setting fires, but the Illinois State Fire Marshall reported that whites had started the fires. No whites were convicted of murder. Although one man was prosecuted for Williams’ death, he was later acquitted. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 begins.

11 CICERO © 2008 KNOXVILLE RACE RIOT The Knoxville Race Riot occurred on August 30, 1919, in Knoxville, Tennessee. The riots began when deputy sheriff Maurice Mayes was arrested. Mayes was a mulatto, a combination of races. Mayes had been accused of murdering Bertie Lindsay, a white woman. Sheriff W.T. Cate attempted to move Mayes out of Chattanooga. However, a large group of whites managed to break down the prison door. This allowed many of the white prisoners to escape, additional violence ensured, and thirty-six people were killed. Mayes was not released to the mob; but he was later convicted and executed, although many people believed he was innocent.

12 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT The Omaha Race Riot raged September , 1919, in Omaha, Nebraska. The incident began after a 19-year-old white woman, Agnes Loebeck, claimed she had been raped on September 25. The next day, 40-year-old African-American Will Brown was arrested for the rape. Loebeck identified him as the man who had raped her. A large crowd of whites attempted to lynch Brown the day he was arrested. The incident gained widespread attention in the Omaha Bee, which also printed sensationalized reports about African Americans committing crimes against white women. Will Brown, an African-American man, was accused of raping Agnes Loebeck.

13 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT On September 28 at approximately 2:00 P.M., a group of young white men met near the Bancroft School and began advancing on the Douglas County Court House, where Brown was held. John T. Dunn, head of the Omaha Detective Bureau, was the first to try stopping them. The men refused to stop. There were thirty police officers guarding the station when the mob arrived at 4:00 P.M. The crowd continued to grow, and confronted police officers. The captain in charge, surprisingly, thought the men would be no threat and sent his fifty reserve officers home for the day. However, the group of whites had grown to approximately 4,000 by 5:00 P.M. They began to attack the police. When the officers shot water hoses into the crowd, the mob attacked the police with sticks and bricks. The men began breaking the courthouse windows and making their way onto the first floor of the building. Police officers began to fire their guns down the elevator shafts to scare off the rioters.

14 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT Omaha Chief of Police Marshall Eberstein tried to speak with the crowd. Eberstein said justice would prevail, and there was no need for the mob to riot. The crowd did not want to hear what the chief was telling them. They began to yell and scream, making sure Eberstein’s voice would not be heard. Eberstein gave up and stopped speaking to the crowd. By 6:00 P.M., the police had lost control of the mob. The mob attacked and stripped the police of their weapons. Some whites attempted to help the African Americans. However, they were assaulted. A large mob forms outside the Douglas County Court House

15 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT By 7:00 P.M., the policemen had retreated to the fourth floor of the courthouse. Sheriff Michael Clark of Douglas County instructed his deputies to protect Brown. However, by 8:00 P.M., the mob had taken gasoline from a nearby gas station, poured it on the bottom floor of the courthouse, and set the courthouse on fire. Nearby stores were looted, and more that one thousand firearms were stolen. Police officers who got in the way of the mob were shot. Seven officers were wounded during the exchange. Two members of the mob, Louis Young and James Hiykel, were killed. Rioters attack the Douglas County Court House.

16 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT As the fires raged at 11:00 P.M., Omaha Mayor Edward Smith came out from hiding in the courthouse. When he emerged, a shot rang out. A man in the crowd claimed Smith had shot him. A crowd of people rushed toward Smith, who tried to fight them off. He was hit in the back of the head with a baseball bat and a noose was put around his neck. Smith stated “if you must hang somebody, then let it be me.” The mayor was dragged toward the center of Harney Street. One of the women in the street removed the rope from Smith’s neck. The mob began to fight with people watching the incident. Some of these men saved Smith and loaded him into the back of a police car. However, the mob broke through and overturned the car, once again capturing the mayor. The noose was placed around his neck, and he was hanged from the tower of a traffic signal. State Agent Ben Danbaum drove his a car into the base of the tower, knocking it down. Smith was brought to Ford Hospital where he almost died from his throat injuries. In the hospital, the mayor stated, “They shall not get him. Mob rule will not prevail in Omaha.”

17 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT By this time, the fire had spread to the third floor of the courthouse. Police officers tried to appeal to the crowd, but the mob demanded that Brown be delivered to them. In the courthouse, jars of formaldehyde had broken, sending deadly gases wafting to the floors above. At this point, Sheriff Clark led his one hundred twenty-one prisoners to the roof to avoid the fire. Will Brown was one of the men brought to the roof. Fellow prisoners tried to throw him off the roof, but the deputy sheriffs stopped them. The women prisoners, white and black, were eventually freed to leave the roof, and they were escorted through the burning building to safety. The mob then poured more gasoline in the building, and the flames rose higher. The mob set the Douglas County Court House on fire.

18 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT People on top of the courthouse began sending messages to the crowd. The first one stated, “The judge says he will give up Negro Brown. He is in the Dungeon. There are 100 white prisoners on the roof. Save them.” Another one enticed the mob, “Come to the fourth floor of the building and we will hand the Negro over to you.” At this point, a fireman’s ladder was placed on the side of the building. People climbed the ladder, armed with a noose and shotguns. While these men were climbing up one side of building, a series of shouts and gunshots were heard from the other side – Will Brown had been captured. The mob lynched Will Brown and burned his body.

19 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT After a brief struggle, Brown was hanged from a telephone pole at the corner of Eighteenth and Harney streets. Brown’s body was cut from the telephone pole, and the corpse was tied to the back of an automobile. Brown’s body was dragged through the streets of Omaha. The car stopped at the intersection of Dodge Street and Seventeenth Street. Lantern oil was poured on the corpse, and it was set on fire. After the corpse of Will Brown was burned, it was dragged through the streets again.

20 CICERO © 2008 OMAHA RACE RIOT Rioters continued to run rampant for hours after Brown’s murder. On three separate occasions, the mob gathered at the local jail, threatening to burn it to the ground. Soldiers managed to prevent the attack. However, the riots continued until 3:00 A.M. when Colonel John E. Morris and the 20 th Infantry arrived in Omaha, and Major General Leonard Wood came the next day with 1,600 soldiers. General Wood enacted martial law throughout Omaha. Brown’s body was buried in Omaha’s Potters’ Field on October 1. The infantry is deployed to Omaha to calm the rioters.

21 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT The Elaine Race Riot, or Elaine Massacre, took place on October 1, 1919, in Elaine, Arkansas. The riot started when black sharecroppers were meeting to discuss how they could receive fair prices for the crops they harvested for the white planters who controlled the land. The sharecroppers expressed an interest in joining the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. The African Americans were also considering filing a lawsuit against the landlords. The union representatives wanted armed guards at the meeting, in case there was trouble. A sheriff’s deputy and railroad detective were hired to provide security for the meeting. This sensational newspaper headline appeared in 1919.

22 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT Violence between whites and blacks erupted at the site of the sharecroppers’ meeting. The deputy sheriff was wounded, and the railroad detective was killed. Leaders of the church where the meeting was held called for an investigation. The riots continued outside the church, as more whites came from neighboring counties; and the crowd grew to approximately one thousand people. Fighting between whites and blacks erupted for the next three days. Newspapers began to make outlandish claims, stating that this was the prelude for an insurrection. When more white men arrived in the Elaine area, they began randomly killing African Americans. Arkansas Governor Hillman Brough warned of a “Negro uprising.” Brough contacted the United States War Department and requested five hundred troops be sent to the region. The soldiers went to the Hoop Spur Church, where they exchanged gunfire with African- American farmers. After days of fighting, two hundred eighty-five blacks were arrested. Many blacks and whites were killed and wounded. An estimated one hundred to two hundred African Americans were killed.

23 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT Eventually, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) launched an investigation into the Elaine Race Riot. NAACP Field Secretary Walter F. White traveled to the region. Due to his mixed ethnicity, White appeared to be white and was given credentials from the Chicago Daily News. He met with Governor Brough. White interviewed white and black residents and concluded that up to one hundred African Americans had been killed. He published his findings in many magazines, including the Chicago Defender and the NAACP magazine, Crisis. Brough tried to force the United States Postal Service not to mail these publications. Eventually, White was identified as an African American. For his safety, White had to return to Little Rock, Arkansas. NAACP Field Secretary Walter F. White

24 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT Between October and November 1919, one hundred twenty-two African Americans were indicted for alleged crimes. Many African Americans did not meet the state of Arkansas’ requirements for jurors, so the juries for these cases were all white. Seventy-three charges of murder were handed out as well as charges of insurrection and conspiracy. During the trial, some blacks were cleared of all charges, but they had to agree to work for the white landlords without pay, and they had to testify against other African Americans. Those who did not agree to these conditions were indicted. Some African Americans were tortured with whippings or electric shocks into confessing to crimes. During the trials, many whites, armed with weapons, gathered near the courthouse. White observers in the courtroom also were armed. The lawyers for the African-American defendants did not allow the accused African Americans to testify, and twelve of the defendants were sentenced to death in the electric chair. In some cases, a trial would last less than one hour; and the juries would render a decision in less than ten minutes. Thirty-six blacks pleaded guilty, and sixty-seven others were sentenced up to twenty-one years in jail. The Arkansas Gazette praised these trials, claiming the legal system had worked, and that no blacks had been lynched.

25 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT At the same time, the NAACP began to formulate appeals of the defendants’ sentences. The organization raised more than $50,000 for its plan and hired African-American attorney, Scipio Africanus Jones, and former Arkansas Attorney General Colonel George W. Murphy. Together, they reversed the verdicts in six of the twelve cases in which African Americans were sentenced to death. They accomplished this because the jury did not state during the trial whether the blacks were charged with first-degree or second-degree murder. This oversight required that the cases be sent back for a retrial. African-American attorney Scipio Africanus Jones

26 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT In the case of the other six blacks, their death sentences were upheld. The court stated in its decision that the mob atmosphere did not violate the blacks’ right to due process of law. These defendants were first denied a petition for a writ of certiorari, which would have sought judicial review for the case. The defense next tried to get a writ of habeas corpus, in which they sought relief for an unwarranted sentence. The defendants claimed they were sentenced because of the pressure of the angry mob, with no regard for their constitutional rights. Judge John Ellis Martineau delivered their writ, but the Arkansas State Court promptly overturned his decision. However, this allowed the execution date to be delayed until the defendants petitioned and were issued a writ from United States District Judge Jacob Trieber. Judge John Ellis Martineau issued the Elaine defendants the original writ of habeas corpus.

27 CICERO © 2008 ELAINE RACE RIOT After this, the state of Arkansas said it would not deny any claims of torture or intimidation used to force from the African Americans. But this was not cause for a denial of due process. While this allowed the United States District Court to reject the writ, the fact that there was probable cause for an appeal led the case to the United States Supreme Court. In Moore v. Dempsey, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of torture and a mob-influenced atmosphere had led to the denial of due process of law for the defendants under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The defendants were ordered retried, and they received sentences of twelve years in jail. In the aftermath, attorney George Ross wrote to Governor Thomas McRae, who was in the last few weeks of his term as Governor of Arkansas. Ross implored McRae to release the other defendants if they pled guilty. This had to be done quickly, because the governor-elect, Thomas Jefferson Terral, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Before he left office, McRae contacted Scipio Jones, stating the prisoners would be released under the cover of darkness and taken out of Arkansas. In addition, Scipio Jones secured the release of those with lesser sentences.

28 CICERO © 2008 LEGACY OF THE RED SUMMER RACE RIOTS The Red Summer Race Riots of 1919 were a time of horrendous injustices against African Americans. However, the decision in the Moore v. Dempsey case allowed the United States government to investigated court cases in the South that involved African Americans. In addition, the NAACP gained credibility and respect when it engineered the release of several African-American prisoners. For Walter F. White, the tremendous risks he took led to his election as executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


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