The Full Wiki

East St. Louis Riot: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The East St. Louis Riot (May and July 1917) was an outbreak of labor and racially motivated violence against blacks that caused an estimated 100 deaths and extensive property damage in the United States industrial city of East St. Louis, Illinois, located on the Mississippi River. It was the worst incidence of labor-related violence in 20th century American history,[1] and one of the worst race riots in U.S. history. It gained national attention.[2] The local Chamber of Commerce called for the resignation of the Police Chief. At the end of the month, ten thousand people marched in silent protest in New York City over the riots, which contributed to the radicalization of many.

Contents

Background

In 1917, the United States had a strong economy boosted by World War I. Because many workers were being recruited for the war, firms also had jobs for African Americans, but labor competition meant that white unions kept out black workers. In addition, industries in St. Louis and East St. Louis were unsettled by strikes. Owners hired blacks as strikebreakers and added to the division among the workers.[3] Blacks had begun the Great Migration out of the South to St. Louis, among other northern and midwestern cities, for work and better living opportunities, as well as an escape from lynchings.

Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), happened to be in New Orleans on a lecture tour in April. He discovered that Louisiana farmers and the Board of Trade addressed Mayor Mollman of East St. Louis when he visited them that same week in April in New Orleans, and asked for his help in discouraging blacks from migrating to the North. That spring blacks were arriving in St. Louis at the rate of 2,000 per week. [4] The farmers worried about losing their labor force.

Many African Americans went to work at the Aluminum Ore Company and the American Steel Company in East St. Louis. Some whites feared job security and maintaining wages in relation to this new competition. They resented the newcomers who came from a different, rural culture. Tensions between the groups escalated on rumors of black men and white women fraternizing at a labor meeting on May 28.[5][6]

Riot and aftermath

Political cartoon about the East St. Louis massacres of 1917. The caption reads, "Mr. President, why not make America safe for democracy?"

Three thousand white men gathered downtown, and started to attack African Americans. They destroyed buildings and beat people. The governor of the state called in National Guard, who prevented further rioting that day. Rumors circulated about fears of an organized attack from African Americans.[5] Conditions eased somewhat for a few weeks.

On July 1, an 18-year-old black man was attacked by a white and shot him. Other whites came by to shoot back. When police came to investigate, the black man who had been attacked returned fire, thinking the police were the earlier attackers. He killed two police officers.[5][7]

On July 2, thousands of white spectators who saw the police's bloodstained automobile marched to the black section of town and started rioting. After cutting the hoses of the fire department, the rioters burned entire sections of the city and shot inhabitants as they escaped the flames.[5] Claiming that "Southern niggers deserve[d] a genuine lynching,"[8] they lynched several blacks. Guardsmen were called in, but several accounts reported that they joined in the rioting rather than stopping it.[9][10] Others joined in, including allegedly "ten or fifteen young girls about 18 years old, [who] chased a negro woman at the Relay Depot at about 5 o'clock. The girls were brandishing clubs and calling upon the men to kill the woman."[5][11]

The police chief estimated that 100 blacks had been killed.[12] The renowned journalist Ida B. Wells reported in The Chicago Defender that 40-150 black people were killed during July in the rioting in East St. Louis.[10][13] Six thousand blacks were left homeless after their neighborhood was burned. The ferocious brutality of the attacks and the failure of the authorities to protect innocent lives contributed to the radicalization of many blacks in St. Louis and the nation.[14]

On July 6 representatives of the Chamber of Commerce met with the mayor to demand the resignation of the Police Chief and Night Police Chief, or radical reform. They were outraged about the rioting and accused the mayor of having allowed a "reign of lawlessness." In addition to the riot's taking the lives of too many innocent people, mobs had caused extensive property damage. The Southern Railway Company's warehouse was burned, with over 100 car loads of merchandise, at a loss to the company of over $500,000; a white theatre valued at over $100,000 was also destroyed.[15]

In New York City on July 28, ten thousand black people marched down Fifth Avenue in silent protest about the East St. Louis riots. They carried signs that highlighted protests about the riots. The march was organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and groups in Harlem. Women and children were dressed in white; the men were dressed in black.[16]

Notes

  1. ^ Fitch, Solidarity for Sale, 2006, p. 120.
  2. ^ McLaughlin, "Reconsidering the East St Louis Race Riot of 1917," International Review of Social History, August 2002.
  3. ^ Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, New York: Verso, 1998, p. 95
  4. ^ Marcus Garvey Speech, 8 Jul 1917, Excerpts from Robert A. Hill, ed. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers', Volume I, 1826 - August 1919. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983, accessed 1 Feb 2009, PBS, American Experience
  5. ^ a b c d e Rudwick, Race Riot at East St. Louis, 1964.
  6. ^ Leonard, "E. St. Louis Riot", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 13, 2004.
  7. ^ The Officer Down Memorial Page
  8. ^ Heaps, "Target of Prejudice: The Negro", in Riots, USA 1765-1970, p. 114.
  9. ^ Gibson, The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States, 1880-1950, 1979.
  10. ^ a b Patrick, "The Horror of the East St. Louis Massacre", Exodus, February 22, 2000.
  11. ^ "Race Rioters Fire East St. Louis and Shoot or Hang Many Negroes", New York Times, July 3, 1917.
  12. ^ Marcus Garvey Speech, 8 Jul 1917, Excerpts from Robert A. Hill, ed. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers', Volume I, 1826 - August 1919. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983, accessed 1 Feb 2009, PBS, American Experience
  13. ^ Wells, Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, rev. ed., 1991.
  14. ^ Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, New York: Verso, 1998, p. 96
  15. ^ Marcus Garvey Speech, 8 Jul 1917, Excerpts from Robert A. Hill, ed. The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers'], Volume I, 1826 - August 1919. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1983, accessed 1 Feb 2009, PBS, American Experience
  16. ^ Winston James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, New York: Verso, 1998, p. 96

References

  • Barnes, Harper. Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement, New York: Walker & Company, June 24, 2008. ISBN 0802715753.
  • Fitch, Robert. Solidarity for Sale. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books Group, 2006. ISBN 189162072X
  • Gibson, Robert A. The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States, 1880-1950. New Haven: Yale University, 1979.
  • Heaps, Willard A. "Target of Prejudice: The Negro", In Riots, USA 1765-1970. New York: The Seabury Press, 1970.
  • Leonard, Mary Delach. "E. St. Louis Riot." St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 13, 2004.
  • McLaughlin, Malcolm. "Reconsidering the East St Louis Race Riot of 1917", International Review of Social History. 47:2 (August 2002).
  • "Race Rioters Fire East St. Louis and Shoot or Hang Many Negroes". New York Times. July 3, 1917.
  • Patrick, James. "The Horror of the East St. Louis Massacre." Exodus. February 22, 2000.
  • Rudwick, Elliott M. Race Riot at East St. Louis. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964.
  • Wells, Ida B. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells. Rev. ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991. ISBN 0226893448

External links

Advertisements

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message