50 killed described as The Deadliest Mass Shooting in U.S. History is not true! Come with me as we ride back in time.
East St. Louis Massacre of 1917 The name refers to a race riot that occurred in the industrial city of East St. Louis, Illinois, over July 2-3, 1917. It is also referred to as the “East St. Louis Riot.” As historians have looked at its various causes, they have labeled it in different ways, depending on what aspect of it they have focused their attention on. Some recent historians have called it a “pogrom” against African Americans in that civil authorities in the city and the state appear to have been at least complicit in—if not explicitly responsible for—the outbreak of violence. Even in 1917, some commentators already made the comparison between the East St. Louis disturbance and pogroms against Jews that were occurring at the time in Russia.
Roving mobs rampaged through the city for a day and a night, burning the homes and businesses of African Americans, stopping street cars to pull their victims into the street, and assaulting and murdering men, women, and children who they happened to encounter. A memorial petition to the U.S. Congress, sent by a citizen committee from East St. Louis described it as “a very orgy of inhuman butchery during which more than fifty colored men, women, and children were beaten with bludgeons, stoned, shot, drowned, hanged or burned to death—all without any effective interference on the part of the police, sheriff or military authorities.” In fact, estimates of the number of people killed ranged from 40 to more than 150. Six thousand people fled from their homes in the city, either out of fear for their lives or because mobs had burned their houses. On July 1, white men driving a car through a black neighborhood began shooting into houses, stores, and a church. A group of black men organized themselves to defend against the attackers. As they gathered together, they mistook an approaching car for the same one that had earlier driven through the neighborhood and they shot and killed both men in the car, who were, in fact, police detectives sent to calm the situation. Racial competition and conflict emerged from this. The established unions in East St. Louis resented the African American workers as “scabs” and strike breakers. On May 28-29, a union meeting whose 3,000 attendees marched on the mayor’s office to make demands about “unfair” competition devolved into a mob that rioted through the streets, destroyed buildings, and assaulted African Americans at random. The Illinois governor sent in the National Guard to stop the riot, but over the next few weeks, black neighborhood associations, fearful of their safety, organized for their own protection and determined that they would fight back if attacked again.
Elaine Race Riot of 1919
The Elaine Massacre was by far the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States. While its deepest roots lay in the state’s commitment to white supremacy, the events in Elaine stemmed from tense race relations and growing concerns about labor unions. A shooting incident that occurred at a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union escalated into mob violence on the part of the white people in Elaine (Phillips County) and surrounding areas. Although the exact number is unknown, estimates of the number of African Americans killed by whites range into the hundreds; five white people lost their lives.
The conflict began on the night of September 30, 1919, when approximately 100 African Americans, mostly sharecroppers on the plantations of white landowners, attended a meeting of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America at a church in Hoop Spur (Phillips County), three miles north of Elaine. The purpose of the meeting, one of several by black sharecroppers in the Elaine area during the previous months, was to obtain better payments for their cotton crops from the white plantation owners who dominated the area during the Jim Crow era. Black sharecroppers were often exploited in their efforts to collect payment for their cotton crops.
The East St. Louis Massacre of 1917
Between 1824 and 1943 there were over 300 events classified as “Race Riots” in which entire white communities turn on and murdered, maimed and destroyed entire Black communities. There were 26 such events in major cities during the summer of 1919 alone. This period has been tagged by historians as “The Red Summer of 1919”. Between the months of April and September of that year, tens of hundreds of Black Americans were killed or maimed for economic, social, political and other reasons. They caused over 375,000 Blacks to leave the Southern border states and flood the North. In the riots in the farthest northern states, many Blacks recalled the East St. Louis race riot and dared to fight back. The most recognized massacre of Blacks in mass was depicted in the movie “Rosewood” in which the Black township in Florida was destroyed and an estimated 150 Blacks were killed in 1923 and more recently revealed Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, were an estimated 300 to 3000 Blacks were killed and over 7800 were left homeless. Whites used airplanes and dynamite to bomb and destroy over 600 Black businesses in a 35 square block area. The Tulsa riot is also known as the story of “Black Wall Street”.
Would it be fair to say Black folk are still invisible no matter how far we “think” we have come, this land is not our land. Yet we pledge our allegiance in school, in the bank, in our associations with others and even in our disassociations, we divorce family members based on their behavior, we exclude those we deem not of the “right” distinction to be included in the club. We outcast, filter-out, walk away from, leave, divorce, separate, split, detach, sever, breach and annihilate anyone who dares to infiltrate our club of “We are better than you because we don’t ______________”. Yet every day we walk around with our eyes wide shut to global exclusion of all of us.
As I walk down a street in my neighborhood, where 98.5% of everyone looks like me, yet no one who looks like me owns an establishment on the street in my neighborhood.
2012 Statistics from the Census Bureau
|Meaning of Race code||Year||Number of firms with or without paid employees||Sales, receipts, or value of shipments of firms with or without paid employees ($1,000)|
|Black or African American||2012||2,584,403||150,203,163|
I leave you with this, read more often, think less of yourself more often, what could we do to change the landscape of folks that look like us, surely we need each other.