Sunday, November 16, 2014

Introduction to Black Life in the 1900's

(Photo credited to:

After the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the 1900's brought about many new changes to the perspectives of black life in America, specifically race relations. Many African-Americans sought to take advantage of the new opportunities they gained after the ending of slavery but would soon come to realize that with their new freedom would come many more years of hardship in their fight to gain basic human rights & equality. This site will serve as a deeper look in the motivations behind some of the largest racially motivated riots & protest that erupted during the 1900's, specifically in Kentucky and how we still continue to battle racism in "post-racial America."

Click here for more info: NKAA

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Plight of Blacks In America Post-Slavery & The "Massacre at East St. Louis"

Mob Stopping Street Car, East St. Louis Riot, July 2, 1917
(Photo Credited: 

The East St. Louis, Illinois Race Riot  in 1917 can be noted as one of the most violent and bloodiest of the 20th century and also the first of its kind. The cause of this riot was due to rising racial tension between whites and blacks after about 470 African Americans were hired to replace white workers who had gone on strike against the Aluminum Ore Company. On May 28th, 1917 after a council meeting ended word of an attempted robbery of a white man by a black man had spread all throughout town which caused white mobs to form and raid the city to beat every African American in their path. This would only be the beginning and opened the door to violence taking over the city.

On July 2, 1917 the violence had hit an all time high and white mobs took even further actions to terrorize African Americans living in the city. Around six o'clock that same day white mobs began burning down African Americans homes, leaving them with only two choices; two stay in their homes and burn to death or leave their homes and be met with gunfire. There were also reports of lynchings going on throughout the city and would continue until the National Guard were sent in before the violence began to wane down.

Unknown to many people today, Kentucky had a very significant role in the oppression of African Americans in the United States. As many as seventeen Jim Crow Laws were passed in Kentucky after the Civil War and would continue for the first half of the 20th Century. The laws were put in place across most of the Southern region of the United States to perpetuate racial segregation between blacks and whites under the preface of "separate but equal". These laws would continue until about the mid-1960's with the passing of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, Civil Rights Act of  1964 & the Voting Rights Act of  1965.

The riot in East. St. Louis would only be the start to a long history of racial discrimination & violence towards African Americans, and would carry on throughout most of the early 20th century.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Louisville Riots of 1968

Martin Luther King speaks at the 1964 Mark on Frankfort, KY
(Photo Credit:

On April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee the  assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King brought much grief, pain &  anger across America. His death would be the final straw in what would lead to a plethora of riots across the United States.

One riot in particular had taken place in Louisville, KY. A city which was no stranger to the racial tensions between blacks and whites that was widespread across America.

Louisville Skyline 
(Photo Credit:

In Louisville, Kentucky, on May 27, 1968, a rally took place at 28th and Greenwood to protest an arrest that had happened a few weeks prior on May 8, 1968. The men arrested were Charles Thomas and a real estate broker by the name of Manfred G. Reid. Reid  questioned officer's about Thomas's arrest which caused a crowd of about 200 African Americans to gather and begin to yell at the officers as the two were taken into custody.

Three weeks later, a rally which consisted of close to 350-400 people was devised as a plan to discuss the arrest of Thomas and Reid. At the rally, there were several speakers who gave their opinions on the arrest of the two gentlemen in hopes to find a solution to the injustice in their community. Towards the end of the rally a confrontation ensued between rally goers and the police patrolling the intersection of 28th and Greenwood and ended up escalating into a full fledged riot that lasted for a week.

National Guard Troops in West End of Louisville during 1968 Riot
(Photo Credit:

Burning Taxi during 1968 Louisville Riot
(Photo Credit:

Over 2,000 guardsmen from the national guard were called in to defuse the situation in Louisville. As a result of this riot both looting and shootings occurred, buildings were burned, two teens were killed, and 472 arrested had taken place.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Video: 28th Street Louisville, Kentucky Revisted

28th Street Louisville, Kentucky Revisited

The contents of this video took place in 1979, eleven years after the Louisville Riots of 1968 took place. In this video you can expect to find a brief history of the Louisville Riots of 1968, what has transpired after that and how the city eleven years later has been effected by the event. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Have Things Changed Today?

Before doing research on the topic of riots across the country during the 20th century, the reasons and motivations behind them, I initially thought that I would find evidence to support the claim that we live in a "post-racial America". The phrase "post-racial America" was first coined by journalist in 2008, who felt that the election of President Barack Obama and the wider acceptance of interracial marriage & relationships would inspire change unto those who believe in the false ideologies about the social construct that we know today as "race".

Looking into my research of the East St. Louis Race Riots of 1917, the Louisville Race Riots of 1968 & comparing those events to things that still take place today, I soon came to realize we still have a long way to go in hopes of gaining the equality that we as Americans are promised.

The publicized beating of Rodney King on March 3, 1991 would lead to The LA Riots of 1992 which is described as one of the worst riots in American since the 1960's.

Rodney King Beating 1992
( YouTube)

Rodney King after brutal beating which lead to L.A. 1992 Riots
(Photo Credit:

LA Riots of 1992

 More recently the untimely deaths of both Travyon Martin & Mike Brown, two teenage African American males have sparked both national and international attention of the racially motivated deaths of African Americans in America.

Trayvon Martin & Mike Brown
(Photo Credit:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Other Notable Riots of the 20th Century

Five Policemen and one soldier stand on corner during Chicago Riot. 
(Photo Credit: Chicago Daily News)

The Chicago Race Riot of 1919- Riot that began in Chicago, Illinois on July 27, 1919 and ended on August 3, 1919. The riot is considered one of the worst riots to have taken place in the history of Illinois with a total of 38 deaths.

Harlem Race Riot of 1935
(Photo Credit: Bettmann/Corbis) 

The Harlem Riot of 1935- Harlem's first race riot with a total of three deaths and over $2 million worth of damage to African American homes and businesses.

African American male brutally beaten during Detroit Race Riots of 1943
(Photo Credit:

The Detroit Riot of 1935- Race Riot in Detroit that lasted for three days starting on June 20,1943, and continued until June 22, 1943. This riot ended with a total of 34 deaths,  433 wounded and the destruction of property valued at $ 2 million. 

Police activity during Columbia Avenue riots on August 28, 1964
(Photo Credit: Temple University Libraries) 

Philadelphia Race Riot of 1964- Race Riot in Philadelphia that took place in predominately African American American neighborhoods. Can be noted as one of the first race riots in the Civil Riots era. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Little About Me

Hey! My name is Cameron Owens and I am currently in my 3rd year at the University of Kentucky. My major is Broadcast Journalism  & my minor is Communication and I hope to be able to use that in hopes to one day becoming a radio & tv talk show host. The inspiration for me to write this blog actually came from a class discussion in which we briefly talked about the East St. Louis of 1917, something that I being from St. Louis, Mo previously had no knowledge of.

The main goal of this blog was able to bridge the gap of the race riots of the 20th century and the problems that will still face today in regards to race discrimination in hopes that it will inspire future conversations. I think until people are able to have open and honest discussions about the racism & discrimination that is still prevalent in our society today, we will continue to see African Americans be the target for acts violence.