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.

No comments:

Post a Comment