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Mass Racial Violence

Armed National Guards and African American men standing on a sidewalk during the race riots in Chicago, Illinois, 1919
Armed National Guards and African American men standing on a sidewalk during the race riots in Chicago, Illinois, 1919

Mass Racial Violence

Racist violence has confronted African Americans in the Midwest from the very beginning.

In the 1829 Cincinnati Riot, white mobs attacked African Americans in an attempt to drive them from the city.  Following the violence, some 1500 African Americans left, many moving to Canada. The riot also moved African Americans to organize for their own defense through the Colored Conventions.

In the 1917 East St. Louis Massacre, mobs of white citizens attacked African Americans, maimed women, seniors and children, and burned down entire Black neighborhoods. Ida B. Wells traveled to East St. Louis to report on the atrocities, calling it the “outrage of the century.” An estimated 40 to 200 African Americans were killed in the violence, one of the worst race riots in American history, on par with the Tulsa Race Riots in 1921.

The 1919 Chicago Race Riot was by far the worst of that year’s “Red Summer” riots nationwide. 23 African Americans were killed and 350 injured, compared to 15 whites killed and 177 injured.  1,000 to 2,000 African Americans’ homes were burned or destroyed.  Also in 1919, the Omaha riot reached its terrible climax with the lynching and burning of African American Will Brown.

In Detroit’s 1943 racial violence, whites targeted the thousands of African Americans who had moved to the Midwest to work in the defense industries during World War II.  23 African Americans lost their lives; 433 were injured.

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This page contains graphic images which may be disturbing to some individuals and is for mature users only. Discretion is advised.