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America's "Red Summer" of 1919

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by GRW, Jul 24, 2019.

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  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Never heard of this one-
    "America in the summer of 1919 ran red with blood from racial violence, and yet today, 100 years later, not many people know it even happened.
    It flowed in small towns like Elaine, Arkansas, in medium-size places such as Annapolis, Maryland, and Syracuse, New York, and in big cities like Washington and Chicago. Hundreds of African American men, women and children were burned alive, shot, lynched or beaten to death by white mobs. Thousands saw their homes and businesses burned to the ground and were driven out, many never to return.
    It was branded "Red Summer" because of the bloodshed and amounted to some of the worst white-on-black violence in U.S. history.
    Beyond the lives and family fortunes lost, it had far-reaching repercussions, contributing to generations of black distrust of white authority. But it also galvanized blacks to defend themselves and their neighborhoods with fists and guns; reinvigorated civil rights organizations like the NAACP and led to a new era of activism; gave rise to courageous reporting by black journalists; and influenced the generation of leaders who would take up the fight for racial equality decades later.
    "The people who were the icons of the civil rights movement were raised by the people who survived Red Summer," said Saje Mathieu, a history professor at the University of Minnesota.
    For all that, there are no national observances marking Red Summer. History textbooks ignore it, and most museums don't acknowledge it. The reason: Red Summer contradicts the post-World War I-era notion that America was making the world safe for democracy, historians say."
    Researchers believe that in a span of 10 months, more than 250 African Americans were killed in at least 25 riots across the U.S. by white mobs that never faced punishment. Historian John Hope Franklin called it "the greatest period of interracial strife the nation has ever witnessed."
    The bloodshed was the product of a collision of social forces: Black men were returning from World War I expecting the same rights they had fought and bled for in Europe, and African Americans were moving north to escape the brutal Jim Crow laws of the South. Whites saw blacks as competition for jobs, homes and political power.
    "Ethnic cleansing was the goal of the white rioters," said William Tuttle, a retired professor of American studies at the University of Kansas and author of "Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919." ''They wanted to kill as many black people as possible and to terrorize the rest until they were willing to leave and live someplace else."
    Hundreds of black Americans were killed during 'Red Summer.' A century later, still ignored
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I didn't realize there was a race element. I read this book in university over 50 years ago. I don't remember much from it, but it chronicled the Red Scare of 1919.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Sounds like two very different interpretations of what happened. The quotes in the first post make it sound like the racial aspect of it may be over emphasized by some.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Two separate events that occurred at roughly the same time. The Red Summer ended in 1919, the First Red Scare would continue into 1920.

    The two events are also slightly intertwined, as the Afrcan-American resistance to the violence was thought to be "revoulutionary", and also because some of the violence revolved around African-American union laborers, those trying to form unions, or those brought in as "scabs."
     
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  5. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    The time between the Armistice and the inauguration of Harding was one of the ugliest and most disgraceful periods in our history, and one of the most violent and turbulent as well. There were widespread strikes and vicious strike-breaking, anti-labor lynchings (Everett, Wash., for example), Wall Street was bombed, "Reds" were found under the bed everywhere and dealt with in ways which violated due process, and there were race riots in a number of towns and cities (Chicago, East St. Louis, Tulsa). Anti-foreign bigotry rose to new heights (eventually producing much more restrictive immigration laws) and the Ku Klux Klan rose to political power not merely in the south but in states like Indiana, Oregon, Illinois, and New Jersey as well. The extremes of the political spectrum were in the ascendant and after Wilson's stroke the White House provided no leadership at all. Peacetime Prohibition came into effect, or rather into non-effect, beginning a decade of gangsterism and and widespread corruption. Even the World Series was fixed. A bad, bad time.
     
  6. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's all new to me, but good to hear so many perspectives.
     

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