"Red Summer," is a phrase coined by James Weldon Johnson as he investigated more than 38 White instigated Race Riots in 1919 for the NAACP.
The racist attacks in 1919 were widespread, and often indiscriminate, but in many places, they were initiated by white servicemen and centered upon the 380,000 black veterans who had just returned from the war. “Because of their military service, black veterans were seen as a particular threat to Jim Crow and racial subordination,” notes a report by the Equal Justice Initiative.
Indeed, many African American soldiers returned from the war armed with a renewed determination to fight segregation and a near-constant barrage of brutality.
During the Red Summer, massive anxiety became mass violence. Between April and November of 1919, there would be approximately 35 riots and instances of mob violence, and a three day long massacre in Elaine, Arkansas during which over 200 black men, women, and children were killed after black sharecroppers tried to organize for better working conditions. The Ku Klux Klan, which had been largely shut down by the government after the Civil War, experienced a resurgence in popularity and began carrying out dozens of lynchings across the south.
More than 1,000 Blacks were killed including more than 140 who were lynched. White American soldiers were a part of the perpetrators of this Racist violence. However, Black soldiers back from World War I fought back. Had it not been for Black soldiers protecting their neighborhoods and their communities, the number of Black deaths would have been much higher.
This and other vile and despicable chapters are simply part and parcel of Racist American History. Of course, do not expect to read any of this in "approved for students to read" classroom textbooks. There are a number of excellent books and articles which detail "Red Summer." Once again, Unless WE Tell It...It Never Gets Told!
The Struggle Continues!
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Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.