Chicago Race Riots (1919)
The “Red Summer” of 1919 marked the culmination of steadily growing tensions surrounding the great migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North during World War I. Chicago was one of the northern cities that experienced violent race riots during that period.
Drawn by the city’s meatpacking houses, railway companies and steel mills, the African-American population in Chicago skyrocketed from 44,000 in 1910 to 235,000 in 1930. When the war ended in late 1918, thousands of white servicemen returned home from fighting in Europe to find that their jobs in factories, warehouses and mills had been filled by newly arrived Southern Blacks or immigrants.
On July 27, 1919, an African-American teenager drowned in Lake Michigan after he challenged the unofficial segregation of Chicago’s beaches and was stoned by a group of white youths.
His death, and the police refusal to arrest the men who caused it, sparked a week of race rioting between Black and white Chicagoans, with Black neighborhoods receiving the worst of the damage.
When the riots ended on Aug. 3, 15 whites and 23 Blacks had been killed and more than 500 people injured. An additional 1,000 Black families had lost their homes when they were torched by rioters.
President Woodrow Wilson castigated the “white race” as “the aggressor” in the Chicago uprising.
Rosewood Massacre (1923)
Rosewood was a quiet, self-sufficient whistle-stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway in Florida. By 1900 the population in Rosewood had become predominantly African-American. Some people farmed or worked in local businesses, including a sawmill in nearby Sumner, a predominantly white town.
In 1920, Rosewood Blacks had three churches, a school, a large Masonic Hall, turpentine mill, a sugarcane mill, a baseball team and a general store (a second one was white owned). The village had about two dozen plank two-story homes, some other small houses, as well as several small unoccupied plank structures.
Spurred by unsupported accusations that a white woman in Sumner had been beaten and possibly raped by a Black drifter, white men from a number of nearby towns lynched a Rosewood resident. When the Black citizens defended themselves against further attack, several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting Black people and burning almost every structure in Rosewood.
Survivors hid for several days in nearby swamps and were evacuated by train and car to larger towns. Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, they made no arrests for the activities in Rosewood. At least six Blacks and two whites were killed, and the town was abandoned by Black residents during the attacks. None ever returned.