Monday, March 27, 2017

The East St. Louis Riot 1917

  I'm taking a history class on WWI. I'd thought I'd pass on a little of the information I'm getting.

PBS.org - The American Experience: The East St. Louis Riot
On July 1, 1917, a rumor spread claiming that a white man had been killed by a black man, and tensions boiled over. The next day, the city of East St. Louis exploded in the worst racial rioting the country had ever seen. Most of the violence -- drive-by shootings, beatings, and arson -- targeted the African American community. The riots raged for nearly a week, leaving nine whites and hundreds of African Americans dead, and property damage estimated at close to $400,000. More than six thousand black citizens, fearing for their lives, fled the city.

The carnage was all the more shocking because it occurred only shortly after American's entry into World War I. According to historian Winston James, "You have black troops going off to fight to make the world safe for democracy in April and in July you have black people being murdered in the most wanton and barbaric manner in East St. Louis; children being thrown back into flaming houses, people being boarded up in their houses before they're torched so that they couldn't escape. So even by American standards, East St. Louis was a horror."

2 comments:

Seadog said...

Lynchings in this time were an everyday occurrence in many parts of the country. Pres. Wilson was a horrible racist.

Jim Sande said...

Yes and yes, the country as a whole was extremely racist. It's also the time when many black people began to leave the South for Northern cities thereby creating the types of urban landscapes we have now in places like Detroit, Chicago, and NY. They left the South because of racism and because of opportunity.