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Race Riots

Race Riots

Race Riots, Content Warning, StudySmarter

American Race Riots during the Progressive Era (1898 - 1945) resulted from years of segregation and mistreatment of African American individuals. Over 50 white-on-Black riots took place during this time, with 25 happening in a single year (1919). White rule and Jim Crow Laws in the South, as well as The Great Migration of African Americans into the North, caused outbreaks of violence in all areas of the country. Race riots were specifically targeted at African Americans by white people who opposed their progress in the country.

Race Riots Definition & History

Race Riots can be defined as a public outbreak of violence in a community between two racial groups. In the years 1917-1923, the national wave of race riots took place, costing thousands their lives and homes.

After the ending of US slavery in 1865, African American people were fighting hard for their places in the country, often leaving the states where they were born to find work and a better life. Beginning in 1916, The Great Migration was a movement of millions of African Americans moving from the rural South to the urban North to find factory jobs.

Race Riots, Map of the Great Migration (Southern state to destination city), StudySmarterMap of The Great MigrationSouthern State to Destination City

Despite being the home of Abolition, many Northerners still opposed having people of color in their workplace. Between Southern anger regarding the loss of people they could exploit and Northern anger regarding a new "lack of jobs," violence began to break out, fighting against the success that Black people were starting to find.

Jim Crow Laws and the rebirth of the KKK across the country both contributed heavily to the outbreak of riots in the 20th century.

Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws that enforced segregation in the American South.

The KKK, also known as the Ku Klux Klan, are a white supremacist terrorist group that was originally founded at the end of the Civil War in 1865. Since that time, the Klan has had two rebirths and is still active in the US today.

The "Red Summer" of 1919

The "Red Summer" was when white supremacist terrorism and racial riots were at their height. 25 race riots in three-dozen cities across America (and one rural county in Arkansas) broke out in the span of a season, costing hundreds of people their lives. The riots were triggered by white soldiers coming home from WWI to find that their jobs were taken by Southern Black people who had migrated North to create better lives. Because the white soldiers determined that the Black people who had migrated south were causing them financial insecurity, racial and ethnic prejudice ran rampant.

Although African Americans had also given their service to the country, they found themselves being denied basic rights such as equality under the law, workplace non-discrimination, and inadequate housing. This triggered massive amounts of anger and frustration on their end as well.

Along with this, the KKK revived its activities in the South, claiming responsibility for 64 lynchings in 1918 and 83 in 1919. The drowning of a Black boy by the name of Eugene Williams also kickstarted the violence that would ensue later in 1919. Williams was a 17-year-old African American boy who accidentally swam over the border that divided Michigan's Black and white beaches. In retaliation, a group of white men threw stones at him, hitting him and causing him to drown. When the police refused to arrest the white men responsible, the beginning of Red Summer had officially begun.

Race Riots, Photo of the Omaha Riot, Lynching of William Brown Red Summer 1919, StudySmarterLynching of William Brown, Omaha Riot Red Summer, 1919Race Riots, Armed police officers in Chicago 1919, StudySmarterArmed police officers - Chicago, 1919

Race Riots Examples

We will discuss some examples of race riots:

Detroit Race Riots

1863 - Known as the first race riot in Detroit, Michigan, the Detroit Riot of 1863 was caused by a white mob attacking the city's black population. It took place during the middle of the Civil War and was known at that time as "the bloodiest day that ever dawned upon Detroit."

1943 - From the evening of June 20th to the morning of June 22nd, the Detroit Race Riot of 1943 was caused by the social tensions associated with the build-up of military participation in WWII (Detroit's automotive industry was converted in order to help with the war effort). Tensions regarding housing and job shortages were enhanced by racist feelings about the influx of around 400,000 migrants. The riot resulted in 34 deaths, 433 injuries, and over 1,800 arrests.

1967 - The 1967 Detroit Riot, also known as the "12th Street Riot" and "The Detroit Rebellion", took place on the morning of July 23rd between Black residents and the Detroit Police Department. The riot was caused by the police department implementing a raid of an unlicensed bar near the West Side of the city. By the end of the riot, 43 people were dead.

Chicago Race Riots

1919 - The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 was caused by tensions between the African Americans who had migrated North and the European immigrants that already lived there. The city was facing housing and job shortages, and many blamed it on the influx of Black people from the South. The riot lasted from July 27th to August 3rd and left 38 people dead.

1966 - The Chicago West Side Riots took place from July 12th to 15th after a police officer arrested a man for armed robbery. Onlookers had screamed that the police were attempting to kill the man who was running from them. The Black community of Chicago took to the streets in protest, looting and burning multiple stores across the city's West Side. Two people were killed, over 30 were injured, and over 200 were arrested.

Race Riots, The Chicago Tribune, StudySmarterAftermath of Chicago West-Side Riots, 1966

Atlanta Race Riot

1906 - Also known as the "Atlanta Race Massacre", the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 was triggered by rumors of 4 white women being sexually assaulted by Black men from the city. African Americans of Atlanta were beaten, shot, and hung due to the city's increasing racial tensions. News of the riot reached across the world, with newspapers in England, France, and Scotland reporting on the violence. The final death toll is unknown and often disputed, but it can be estimated between 10 and 100.

Washington DC Race Riot

1919 - Between July 19th and 24th, the Washington DC Race Riot of 1919 took place. The US Marines, Navy, and Army had heard rumors of white women being assaulted by a Black man in the community. In response to this, they attacked Black individuals and businesses within the city. When the police refused to intervene and help those who were being attacked on unfair grounds, the city's Black population fought back. When the violence finally ended, 15 people were dead. The DC Race Riot is one of the only riots that has ever seen more white fatalities than Black.

Race Riots Conclusion & Outcome

Though it would take years after the Red Summer of 1919 for African Americans to be granted their Civil Rights in America, the race riots of the Progressive Era (and afterward) show the strength and willingness of the country's Black citizens to fight back in the face of oppression and injustice. Though the violence is difficult to process, these events are important in showing the seemingly never-ending battle Black people must face for equality and justice in America.

It is important to note that despite these riots (and the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s) Black Americans have continued to face higher rates of incarceration/false convictions, poverty, police brutality, red-lining, and much more.

Race Riots - Key takeaways

  • The national wave of race riots took place from 1917 - 1923 and cost thousands of people their lives and homes.
  • Many of the tensions that would result in the Red Summer of 1919 (and future race riots) were caused by the Great Migration that began in 1916.
  • The Red Summer of 1919 was the height of white supremacist terrorism and racial riots. 25 of them took place in three dozen cities (and one urban county of Arkansas) across America.
  • The early 20th century riots were encouraged by Jim Crow Laws and the revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
  • It would take decades after the Red Summer for African Americans to be granted their Civil Rights in America. Despite its developments, America's Black communities still struggle with equality and justice.

Race Riots, Psych assistance/support number & website, StudySmarter

Frequently Asked Questions about Race Riots

Race Riots can be defined as a public outbreak of violence in a community between two racial groups. 

The national wave of race riots took place between 1917 and 1923.

It is estimated that 26 black people were killed in the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 (though the number could be much higher).

The most famous race riot was actually a massacre in East St. Louis in 1917. Between 100-200 black people were killed by white mobs who were angered by the built up tensions over jobs in the city. Men, women, and children were all victims of the horrendous violence. 

Final Race Riots Quiz

Question

What was the Great Migration?

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Answer

The Great Migration was a movement of millions of African Americans migrating from the rural South to the urban North.

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Question

The national wave of race riots took place during the Progressive Era, from 1917 to 1923.

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Answer

True.

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Question

Outbreaks of racial violence were caused by ______.

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Answer

All of the above.

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Question

What was the Red Summer of 1919?

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Answer

The "Red Summer" was a period in which white supremacist terrorism and racial riots were at their height. 

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Question

It would take decades after the Red Summer for African Americans to be granted their Civil Rights. 

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Answer

True.

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Question

How many race riots took place during the national wave (1917-1923)?

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Answer

Over 50.

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How many race riots took place during the Red Summer of 1919?

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Answer

25

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Question

Black Americans are still faced with being disproportionately __________.

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Answer

All of the above.

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What were Jim Crow Laws?

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Answer

Laws that enforced segregation, particularly in the South.

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How many times has the KKK been rebirthed since its founding?

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Answer

2

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60%

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