This is an excerpt of the chapter entitled:
"Massacres, Mass Murders and Mobs"
I shared examples to show that racial hatred is not limited to a particular region of the world or ethnicity. People of every color, nationality are capable of unspeakable evil when they allow themselves to be influenced by racism.
What about America? America’s history is stained with similar atrocities and mob violence. Though the power structure in American history has been held by white men, this is not a section designed to imply that any race is more wicked than any other. I have already shared examples from other continents. I share them as a reminder of what did happen and what can happen again. You may say, how could something like this happen again? It’s certainly not likely to happen on a scale like in Rwanda, but we have already seen in El Paso what one person with an automatic weapon could do in a Walmart?
Recently counter-protester Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire on protesters, killing two. What if the crowd of armed counter-protesters had been bigger? Counter-protesters have already arrived en masse in small town after small town to stop or disrupt small protests. What if more people like Rittenhouse decide to open fire? What if the mass of counter-protesters heading to places like Portland encounter armed protesters and volleys are exchanged? It could quickly escalate into a conflict too big for local authorities to handle and end up in a mass casualty situation.
This is exactly what happened in the Elaine massacre in 1919. The following is a quote from the Smithsonian Magazine:
“The sharecroppers who gathered at a small church in Elaine, Arkansas, in the late hours of September 30, 1919, knew the risk they were taking. Upset about unfair low wages, they enlisted the help of a prominent white attorney from Little Rock, Ulysses Bratton, to come to Elaine to press for a fairer share in the profits of their labor. Each season, landowners came around demanding obscene percentages of the profits, without ever presenting the sharecroppers detailed accounting and trapping them with supposed debts.
‘There was very little recourse for African-American tenant farmers against this exploitation; instead there was an unwritten law that no African-American could leave until his or her debt was paid off,’ writes Megan Ming Francis in Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State. Organizers hoped Bratton’s presence would bring more pressure to bear through the courts. Aware of the dangers – the atmosphere was tense after racially motivated violence in the area – some of the farmers were armed with rifles.
At around 11 p.m. that night, a group of local white men, some of whom may have been affiliated with local law enforcement, fired shots into the church. The shots were returned, and in the chaos, one white man was killed. Word spread rapidly about the death. Rumors arose that the sharecroppers, who had formally joined a union known as the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America (PFHUA) were leading an organized ‘insurrection‘ against the white residents of Phillips County.
Governor Charles Brough called for 500 soldiers from nearby Camp Pike to, as the Arkansas Democrat reported on Oct 2, ‘round up’ the ‘heavily armed negroes.’ The troops were “under order to shoot to kill any negro who refused to surrender immediately.” They went well beyond that, banding together with local vigilantes and killing at least 200 African-Americans (estimates run much higher but there was never a full accounting). And the killing was indiscriminate—men, women and children unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity were slaughtered. Amidst the violence, five whites died, but for those deaths, someone would have to be held accountable.
Out of this tragedy, known as the Elaine massacre, and its subsequent prosecution, would come a Supreme Court decision that would upend years of court-sanctioned injustice against African-Americans and would secure the right of due process for defendants placed in impossible circumstances.
Despite its impact, little about the carnage in Elaine was unique during the summer of 1919. It was part of a period of vicious reprisals against African-American veterans returning home from World War I. Many whites believed that these veterans (including Robert Hill, who co-founded PFHUA) posed a threat as they claimed greater recognition for their rights at home. Even though they served in large numbers, black soldiers ‘realized over the course of the war and in the immediate aftermath that their achievement and their success actually provoked more rage and more vitriol than if they had utterly failed,’ says Adriane Lentz-Smith, associate professor of history at Duke University and author of Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I.
During the massacre, Arkansan Leroy Johnston, who had had spent nine months recovering in a hospital from injuries he suffered in the trenches of France – was pulled from a train shortly after returning home and was shot to death alongside his three brothers…
In the days after the bloodshed in Elaine, local media coverage continued to fan the flames daily, reporting sensational stories of an organized plot against whites. A seven-man committee formed to investigate the killings. Their conclusions all too predictable: the following week they issued a statement in the Arkansas Democrat declaring the gathering in Elaine a ‘deliberately planned insurrection of the negroes against the whites’ led by the PFHUA, whose founders used ‘ignorance and superstition of a race of children for monetary gains.’
The paper claimed every individual who joined was under the understanding that ‘ultimately he would be called upon to kill white people.’ A week later, they would congratulate themselves on the whole episode and their ability to restore order confidently claiming that not one slain African-American was innocent…
The courts were another matter altogether. Dozens of African-Americans became defendants in hastily convened murder trials that used incriminating testimony coerced through torture, and 12 men were sentenced to death. Jury deliberations lasted just moments. The verdicts were a foregone conclusion – it was clear that had they not been slated for execution by the court, the mob would have done so even sooner.
‘You had 12 black men who were clearly charged with murder in a system that was absolutely corrupt at the time – you had mob influence, you had witness tampering, you had a jury that was all-white, you had almost certainly judicial bias, you had the pressure of knowing that if you were a juror in this case that you would almost certainly not be able to live in that town...if you decided anything other than a conviction,’ says Michael Curry, an attorney and chair of the NAACP Advocacy and Policy Committee. No white residents were tried for any crime.” (Uenuma, 2018)
Mob violence, like what was seen in Elaine, Arkansas, has been especially deadly to African Americans since the end of slavery. One of the deadliest post-slavery expressions of mob violence against African Americans was lynching:
“In December 1865, seven months after President Abraham Lincoln took a bullet to the head at Ford’s Theatre, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified with these words:
‘Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction,’ the amendment says.
For blacks, the moment represented liberty in its truest form — the country’s defining document now outlawed slavery. But the 13th Amendment infuriated many Southern whites who refused to accept the outcome of the Civil War.
The next 12 years during the period known as Reconstruction was one of the most brutal stretches of organized racial terrorism in American history, with white mobs attacking and lynching blacks. The unprovoked assaults stretched into the early 1950s.
Historians have struggled for years to figure out just how many blacks were lynched. Now, thanks to a new report from the Equal Justice Initiative, the numbers are coming into clearer focus. The Alabama-based organization said its researchers have documented 6,500 lynchings between 1865 and 1950, including 2,000 attacks during Reconstruction that weren’t tallied in its previous reports…
‘Emboldened Confederate veterans and former enslavers organized a reign of terror that effectively nullified constitutional amendments designed to provide Black people with equal protection and the right to vote,’ the report said. ‘Violence, mass lynchings, and lawlessness enabled white Southerners to create a regime of white supremacy and Black disenfranchisement alongside a new economic order that continued to exploit Black labor.’” (Rosenwald, 2020)
More often than not, lynchings and mob violence had the direct support of local law enforcement or their implicit approval. In one case of mob violence in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1960, the police were bystanders to mob violence until some black gang members stepped in to help the black students that were being beaten. Then the police joined the side of the mob:
“JACKSONVILLE, FL - August 27 marks the anniversary of one of the more horrendous events in Jacksonville's history. It was 56 years ago when the brutal attack that became known as ‘Ax Handle Saturday’ occurred.
That infamous Saturday, The Youth Council of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was participating in a peaceful protest, sitting at a whites only lunch counter until they were spit on by attackers.
According to The Florida Historical Society, things escalated and 200 white people chased them through the streets of downtown Jacksonville, beating them with ax handles and baseball bats.
Though the attack was originally aimed at the protestors, it soon began to include any black person in sight, according to the FHS. Authorities stood idly by until members of a black street gang called "The Boomerangs" tried to help those being attacked, at which point some members of the police joined in the beatings.
The victims of the attacks ran to a nearby church, finding sanctuary, until the mob disappeared.
Rodney L. Hurst was the president of the Youth Council the year the attack happened. He has written about his experiences in his award-winning book "It was Never about a Hot Dog and a Coke," where he contextualizes the state of race issues at the time.
‘Jacksonville was a mess, not unlike a lot of other southern cities,’ Hurst says.
According to FHS, it is believed that the Ku Klux Klan organized the mob attack on ‘Ax Handle Saturday.’ Hurst said that the intent of the mob was to scare, intimidate and bring physical harm. ‘Many times you could not draw a line between the Klan and law enforcement, because law enforcement were at least accomplices to a lot of the things the Klan did.’ (Johnson D. , 2017)
To read more about this, visit the Florida Historical Society.”
As armed counter-protesters descend on small cities with limited law enforcement capabilities, I can easily see where a group of peaceful protesters could be subjected to a repeat of the kind of violence seen on Ax Handle Saturday. I could find no reports of death in the Ax Handle Saturday riots and mob violence. That was 1960. Around the turn of the century, race riots and mob violence proved far more deadly in Wilmington, North Carolina, Rosewood, Florida, and Tulsa, Ok.
Wilmington, North Carolina
“A politically motivated attack by whites against the city’s leading African American citizens, the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 documents the lengths to which Southern White Democrats went to regain political domination of the South after Reconstruction. The violence began on Thursday, November 10th in the predominantly African American city of Wilmington, North Carolina, at that time the state’s largest metropolis. Statewide election returns had recently signaled a shift in power with Democrats taking over the North Carolina State Legislature. The city of Wilmington, however, remained in Republican hands primarily because of its solid base of African American voters. On November 10th, Alfred Moore Waddell, a former Confederate officer and a white supremacist, led a group of townsmen to force the ouster of Wilmington’s city officials.
Waddell relied on an editorial printed in the African American-owned Wilmington Daily Record as the catalyst for the riot. Alex Manly, the editor of the Daily Record, had published an editorial in early November arguing that ‘poor white men are careless in the matter of protecting their women.’ Paraphrasing articles by Ida B. Wells on the subject of lynching, Manly opined that ‘our experiences among poor white people in the country teaches us that women of that race are not any more particular in the matter of clandestine meetings with colored men than the white men with the colored women.’ Manly’s public discussion of the taboo subject of interracial sex exposed the reality of sexual exploitation of black women by white men and challenged the myth of pure-white womanhood.
Forty-eight hours after Manly’s editorial ran Waddell led 500 white men to the headquarters of the Daily Record on 7th Street. The mob broke out windows and set the building on fire. Manly and other high profile African Americans fled the city; however, at least 14 African Americans were slain that day. An eyewitness later wrote that African Americans fled to the swamps, or hid in the African American cemetery at the edge of town. When their criminal behavior resulted in neither Federal sanctions nor condemnation from the state, Waddell and his men formalized their control of Wilmington. The posse forced the Republican members of the city council and the mayor to resign and Waddell assumed the mayoral seat. Over the next two years North Carolina passed the ‘grandfather clause,’ as one in a series of laws designed to limit the voting rights of African Americans.” (Johnson T. A., 2008)
“The Rosewood Massacre was an attack on the predominantly African American town of Rosewood, Florida, in 1923, by large groups of white aggressors. The town was entirely destroyed by the end of the violence, and the residents were driven out permanently. The story was mostly forgotten until the 1980s, when it was revived and brought to public attention…
By the 1920s, Rosewood’s population of about 200 was entirely made up of black citizens, except for one white family that ran the general store there.
On January 1, 1923, in Sumner, Florida, 22-year-old Fannie Taylor was heard screaming by a neighbor. The neighbor found Taylor covered in bruises and claiming a black man had entered the house and assaulted her…
Fannie Taylor’s husband, James Taylor, a foreman at the local mill, escalated the situation by gathering an angry mob of white citizens to hunt down the culprit. He also called for help from white residents in neighboring counties, among them a group of about 500 Ku Klux Klan members who were in Gainesville for a rally. The white mobs prowled the area woods searching for any black man they might find.
Law enforcement found out that a black prisoner named Jesse Hunter had escaped a chain gang, and immediately designated him a suspect. The mobs focused their searches on Hunter, convinced that he was being hidden by the black residents.
Searchers were led by dogs to the home of Aaron Carrier in Rosewood. Carrier was the nephew of Sarah Carrier, who did the laundry for Taylor.
The horde of white men dragged Carrier out of his house, tied him to a car and dragged him to Sumner, where he was cut loose and beaten.
Sheriff Walker intervened, putting Carrier in his car and driving him to Gainesville, where he was placed under the protective custody of the sheriff there.
Another mob showed up at the home of blacksmith Sam Carter, torturing him until he admitted that he was hiding Hunter and agreed to take them to the hiding spot.
Carter led them into the woods, but when Hunter failed to appear, someone in the mob shot him. His body was hung on a tree before the mob moved on.
The sheriff’s office had attempted and failed to break up white mobs and advised black workers to stay in their places of employment for safety.
As many as 25 people, mostly children, had taken refuge in the home of Sarah Carrier when, on the night of January 4, armed white men surrounded the house in the belief that Jesse Hunter was hiding there.
Shots were fired in the ensuing confrontation: Sarah Carrier was shot in the head and died, and her son Sylvester was also killed by a gun wound. Two white attackers were also killed.
The gun battle and standoff lasted overnight. It ended when the door was broken down by white attackers. The children inside the house escaped through the back and made their way to safety through the woods, where they hid.
Rosewood Violence Escalates
News of the standoff at the Carrier house spread, with newspapers inflating the number dead and falsely reporting bands of armed black citizens going on a rampage. Even more white men poured into the area believing that a race war had broken out.
Some of the first targets of this influx were the churches in Rosewood, which were burned down. Houses were then attacked, first setting fire to them and then shooting people as they escaped from the burning buildings…
Many Rosewood citizens fled to the nearby swamps for safety, spending days hiding in them. Some attempted to leave the swamps but were turned back by men working for the sheriff.
James Carrier, brother of Sylvester and son of Sarah, did manage to get out of the swamp and take refuge with the help of a local turpentine factory manager. A white mob found him anyhow and forced him to dig a grave for himself before murdering him.
Others found help from white families willing to shelter them.
John and William Bryce
Some black women and children escaped thanks to John and William Bryce, two wealthy brothers who owned a train.
Aware of the violence in Rosewood and familiar with the population, the brothers drove their train to the area and invited escapees, though refused to take in black men, afraid of being attacked by white mobs.
Many of those who fled by train had been hidden in the home of the white general store owner, John Wright, and continued to do so throughout the violence. Sheriff Walker helped terrified residents make their way to Wright, who would then arrange escape with the help of the Bryce brothers.
Florida Governor Cary Hardee offered to send the National Guard to help, but Sheriff Walker declined the help, believing he had the situation under control.
Mobs began to disperse after several days, but on January 7, many returned to finish off the town, burning what little remained of it to the ground, except for the home of John Wright.
A special grand jury and a special prosecutor were appointed by the governor to investigate the violence. The jury heard the testimonies of nearly 30 witnesses, mostly white, over several days, but claimed to not find enough evidence for prosecution.
The surviving citizens of Rosewood did not return, fearful that the horrific bloodshed would recur.
Rosewood Massacre Legacy
The story of Rosewood faded away quickly. Most newspapers stopped reporting on it soon after the violence had ceased, and many survivors kept quiet about their experience, even to subsequent family members.
It was in 1982 when Gary Moore, a journalist for the St. Petersburg Times, resurrected the history of Rosewood through a series of articles that gained national attention.
The living survivors of the massacre, at that point all in their 80s and 90s, came forward, led by Rosewood descendant Arnett Doctor, and demanded restitution from Florida.
The action lead to the passing of a bill awarding them $2 million and created an educational fund for descendants. The bill also called for an investigation into the matter to clarify the events, which Moore took part in.
Further awareness was created through John Singleton’s 1997 film, Rosewood, which dramatized the events.” (History.com Editors, 2020)
Tulsa, Oklahoma (Greenwood)
“During the Tulsa Race Massacre (also known as the Tulsa Race Riot), which occurred over 18 hours on May 31-June 1, 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes and businesses in the predominantly Black Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, and one of the least-known: News reports were largely squelched, despite the fact that hundreds of people were killed and thousands left homeless.
Black Wall Street
In much of the country, the years following World War I saw a spike in racial tensions, including the resurgence of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan, numerous lynchings and other acts of racially motivated violence, as well as efforts by African Americans to prevent such attacks on their communities.
By 1921, fueled by oil money, Tulsa was a growing, prosperous city with a population of more than 100,000 people. But crime rates were high, and vigilante justice of all kinds wasn’t uncommon.
Tulsa was also a highly segregated city: Most of the city’s 10,000 Black residents lived in a neighborhood called Greenwood, which included a thriving business district sometimes referred to as the Black Wall Street.
READ MORE: Tulsa's 'Black Wall Street' Flourished as a Self-Contained Hub in the Early 1900s
What Caused the Tulsa Race Massacre?
On May 30, 1921, a young Black teenager named Dick Rowland entered an elevator at the Drexel Building, an office building on South Main Street. At some point after that, the young white elevator operator, Sarah Page, screamed; Rowland fled the scene. The police were called, and the next morning they arrested Rowland.
By that time, rumors of what supposedly happened on that elevator had circulated through the city’s white community. A front-page story in the Tulsa Tribune that afternoon reported that police had arrested Rowland for sexually assaulting Page.
As evening fell, an angry white mob was gathering outside the courthouse, demanding the sheriff hand over Rowland. Sheriff Willard McCullough refused, and his men barricaded the top floor to protect the Black teenager.
Around 9 p.m., a group of about 25 armed Black men—including many World War I veterans—went to the courthouse to offer help guarding Rowland. After the sheriff turned them away, some of the white mob tried unsuccessfully to break into the National Guard armory nearby.
With rumors still flying of a possible lynching, a group of around 75 armed Black men returned to the courthouse shortly after 10 pm, where they were met by some 1,500 white men, some of whom also carried weapons.
After shots were fired and chaos broke out, the outnumbered group of Black men retreated to Greenwood.
Over the next several hours, groups of white Tulsans—some of whom were deputized and given weapons by city officials—committed numerous acts of violence against Black people…
The false belief that a large-scale insurrection among Black Tulsans was underway, including reinforcements from nearby towns and cities with large African American populations, fueled the growing hysteria.
As dawn broke on June 1, thousands of white citizens poured into the Greenwood District, looting and burning homes and businesses over an area of 35 city blocks. Firefighters who arrived to help put out fires later testified that rioters had threatened them with guns and forced them to leave.
According to a later Red Cross estimate, some 1,256 houses were burned; 215 others were looted but not torched. Two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels, stores and many other Black-owned businesses were among the buildings destroyed or damaged by fire.
By the time the National Guard arrived and Governor J. B. A. Robertson had declared martial law shortly before noon, the riot had effectively ended. Though guardsmen helped put out fires, they also imprisoned many Black Tulsans, and by June 2 some 6,000 people were under armed guard at the local fairgrounds.
Aftermath of the Tulsa Race Massacre
In the hours after the Tulsa Race Massacre, all charges against Dick Rowland were dropped. The police concluded that Rowland had most likely stumbled into Page, or stepped on her foot. Kept safely under guard in the jail during the riot, he left Tulsa the next morning and reportedly never returned.
The Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics officially recorded 36 dead. A 2001 state commission examination of events was able to confirm 36 dead, 26 Black and 10 white. However, historians estimate the death toll may have been as high as 300.
Even by low estimates, the Tulsa Race Massacre stood as one of the deadliest riots in U.S. history, behind only the New York Draft Riots of 1863, which killed at least 119 people.
For decades, there were no public ceremonies, memorials for the dead or any efforts to commemorate the events of May 31-June 1, 1921. Instead, there was a deliberate effort to cover them up.
In 2001, the report of the Race Riot Commission concluded that between 100 and 300 people were killed and more than 8,000 people made homeless over those 18 hours in 1921.” (History.com Editors, 2020)
New York, New York
“The New York Draft Riots occurred in July 1863, when the anger of working-class New Yorkers over a new federal draft law during the Civil War sparked five days of some of the bloodiest and most destructive rioting in U.S. history. Hundreds of people were killed, many more seriously injured, and African-Americans were often the target of the rioters’ violence.
A CITY DIVIDED
As the business capital of the nation, New York City had not welcomed the onset of the Civil War, as it meant losing the South as a trading partner.
Cotton was an extremely valuable product for New York’s merchants: Before the Civil War, cotton represented 40 percent of all the goods shipped out of the city’s port. And long after the slave trade was made illegal in 1808, the city’s illicit slave market thrived.
When the war broke out in 1861, there was even talk of New York seceding from the Union itself, so entwined were the city’s business interests with the Confederate States.
As the war progressed, New York’s anti-war politicians and newspapers kept warning its working-class white citizens, many of them Irish or German immigrants, that emancipation would mean their replacement in the labor force by thousands of freed black slaves from the South.
In September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation (which would take effect early the following year), confirming the workers’ worst fears.
At the time, Lincoln’s decision for emancipation sparked protests among workers in the city, as well as soldiers and officers in New York regiments who had signed up to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery.
NEW FEDERAL DRAFT LAW SPARKS UNREST
Facing a dire shortage of manpower in early 1863, Lincoln’s government passed a strict new conscription law, which made all male citizens between 20 and 35 and all unmarried men between 35 and 45 subject to military duty.
Though all eligible men were entered into a lottery, they could buy their way out of harm’s way by hiring a substitute or paying $300 to the government (roughly $5,800 today).
At the time, that sum was the yearly salary for the average American worker, making avoiding the draft impossible for all but the wealthiest of men. Compounding the issue, African Americans were exempt from the draft, as they were not considered citizens.
Riots over the draft occurred in other cities, including Detroit and Boston, but nowhere as badly as in New York. Anti-war newspapers published attacks on the new draft law, fueling the mounting anger of white workers leading up to the city’s first draft lottery on July 11, 1863.
NEW YORK DRAFT RIOTS BEGIN
For the first 24 hours after the lottery, the city remained suspiciously quiet, but rioting began early on the morning of Monday, July 13.
Thousands of white workers – mainly Irish and Irish-Americans – started by attacking military and government buildings, and became violent only toward people who tried to stop them, including the insufficient numbers of policemen and soldiers the city’s leaders initially mustered to oppose them.
By that afternoon, however, they had moved on to target black citizens, homes and businesses.
In one notorious example, a mob of several thousand people, some armed with clubs and bats, stormed the Colored Orphan Asylum on Fifth Avenue near 42nd Street, a four-story building housing more than 200 children.
They took bedding, food, clothing and other goods and set fire to the orphanage, but stopped short of assaulting the children, who were forced to go to one of the city’s almshouses.
STUNNING VIOLENCE AND BLOODSHED
In addition to blacks themselves, rioters turned their rage against white abolitionists and women who were married to black men.
White dockworkers, long opposed to the black men working on the docks alongside them (a demonstration against employers hiring black workers on the docks had turned violent earlier in 1863) took the opportunity to destroy many of the businesses near the docks that catered to black workers, and attack their owners, as part of their effort to erase the black working class from the city.
By far the worst violence was reserved for African-American men, a number of whom were lynched or beaten to death with shocking brutality. In all, the published death toll of the New York City draft riots was 119 people, though estimates of the actual number of people killed reached as high as 1,200.
DRAFT RIOTS FINALLY END
New York leaders struggled with the task of containing the draft riots: Governor Horatio Seymour was a Peace Democrat, who had openly opposed the draft law and appeared sympathetic to the riot.
New York City’s Republican mayor, George Opdyke, wired the War Department to send federal troops but hesitated on declaring martial law in response to the rioting.
On July 15, the third day of the protests, rioting spread to Brooklyn and Staten Island. The following day, the first of more than 4,000 federal troops arrived, from New York regiments who had been fighting in the Battle of Gettysburg.
After clashing with rioters in what is now the Murray Hill neighborhood, the troops were finally able to restore order, and by midnight of July 16 the New York City draft riots had come to an end.
LEGACY of the NEW YORK DRAFT RIOTS
In addition to the death toll, the riots had caused millions of dollars in property damage and made some 3,000 of the city’s black residents homeless.
The New York Draft Riots remain the deadliest riots in U.S. history, even worse than the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and the 1967 Detroit Riots.
When the Colored Orphan Asylum attempted to rebuild on the same site after the riots, neighboring property owners protested, and the orphanage would eventually be relocated to the sparsely settled area north of the city that would later become Harlem.
… the draft riots would have a devastating impact on the city’s African-American community. While the 1860 census recorded 12,414 black New Yorkers, by 1865 the city’s black population had declined to 9,945 by 1865, the lowest number since 1820.” (History.com Editors, 2018)
I am a 55-year-old African American man. I had never heard of most of the post-slavery mass-murders of African Americans until recently, as I started writing this book. I’d heard of “Black Wall Street” many times and honestly thought it was an urban legend as the prosperity of the blacks in the city at that time in America seemed too good to be true. I can see the concept of one race gathering together for success in places like Chinatown in New York or L.A. On top of all the deaths, the number of people, thousands of them, instantly made homeless is staggering. The economic impacts on people whose homes, businesses, churches, schools, communities were burned to the ground are hard to grasp. All of these things are merely an illustration of what can happen when racism is unleashed.
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