ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Large-scale interracial violence became almost epidemic,
as increasing numbers of Blacks migrated to Northern cities.
Books on Lynch Terror in America
But There Was no Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction (1984) / Lynch Law ( 1905) / An American Dilemma (1944)
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Riots & Massacres in the Jim Crow South
The Setting: Decade After World War I
“Red Summer.” This was the year of the “Red Summer,” with 26 race riots between the months of April and October. These included disturbances in the following areas:
May 10 Charleston, South Carolina.
July 13 Gregg and Longview counties, Texas.
July 19-23 Washington, D. C.
July 27 Chicago.
October 1-3 Elaine, Arkansas.
Lynchings. Seventy-six black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1919.
Census of 1920.
U.S. population: 105,710,620 Black population: 10,463,131 (9.9%)
The Harlem Renaissance. The decade of the Twenties witnessed the Harlem Renaissance, a remarkable period of creativity for black writers, poets, and artists, including these authors:
Claude McKay, Harlem Shadows, 1922 Jean Toomer, Cane, 1923 Alaine Locke, The New Negro, 1925 Countee Cullen, Color, 1925
The Rise of Marcus Garvey. On August 1, Marcus Garvey’s Universal Improvement Association held its national convention in Harlem, the traditionally black neighborhood in New York City. Garvey’s African nationalist movement was the first black American mass movement, and at its height it claimed hundreds of thousands of supporters.
Harding elected president. On November 3, Warren G. Harding (Republican) was elected president.
Lynchings. Fifty-three black Americans are known to have been lynched in 1920.
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WHITE SUPREMACY & DOMINATION: RACE RIOTS
Terrorizing & Massacring African Americans
In the decade immediately preceding World War I, a pattern of racial violence began to emerge in which white mob assaults were directed against entire Black communities. These race riots were the product of white societys desire to maintain its superiority over Blacks, vent its frustrations in times of distress, and attack those least able to defend themselves. In these race riots, white mobs invaded Black neighborhoods, beat and killed large numbers of Blacks and destroyed Black property. In most instances, Blacks fought back and there were many casualties on both sides, though most of the dead were Black.
Gunnar Myrdal opposed the use of the term riots to describe these interracial conflicts. He preferred to call this phenomena a terrorization or massacre, and (considered) it a magnified, or mass, lynching.13 Race riots occurred in both the North and South, but were more characteristic of the North. They were primarily urban phenomena, while lynching was primarily a rural phenomenon.
Although lynchings were decreasing slightly by the turn of the century, race riots were perceptibly on the increase. Large-scale interracial violence became almost epidemic, as increasing numbers of Blacks migrated to Northern cities. The greatest number of race riots occurred during and just after World War I. During this period the North was concerned with the tremendous migration of Blacks from the South, and the displacement of some whites by Blacks in jobs and residences, which escalated social tensions between the races. The South was concerned about the possible demands of returning Negro soldiers, who were unwilling to slip quietly back into second class citizenship.
The summer of 1919, called The Red Summer by James Weldon Johnson, ushered in the greatest period of interracial violence the nation had ever witnessed. During that summer there were twenty-six race riots in such cities as Chicago, Illinois; Washington, D.C.; Elaine, Arkansas; Charleston, South Carolina; Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee; Longview, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska. More than one hundred Blacks were killed in these riots, and thousands were wounded and left homeless.
The seven most serious race riots were those which occurred in Wilmington, N. C. (1898), Atlanta, Ga. (1906), Springfield, Ill. (1908), East St. Louis) Ill. (1917), Chicago, Ill. (1919), Tulsa, Okla. (1921) and Detroit, Mich. (1943). What follows is a brief summary of the facts concerning each riot.
In November 1898, Wilmington, North Carolina, just before the turn of the century, exploded in the first major race riot since Reconstruction. The Wilmington riot followed an impassioned election campaign in which intimidation and fraud brought in a white supremacist government. Plans were drawn up before the election to coerce the Black voters and workers, and to expel the editor of the Black newspaper. Two days after the election, as whites began to execute their plan, the riot flamed. About thirty Blacks were killed in the massacre and many left the city. The white mob suffered no casualties.
In September 1906, in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the Souths most sensational riots occurred . For months the city had been lashed into a fury of race hatred by a movement to disfranchise Blacks. The Atlanta press had begun to treat Black crime, especially assault and rape, in an inflammatory fashion. Twelve rapes of white women were reported in one week, giving the impression that there was an epidemic of Black rape. This touched off a riot.
White mobs, meeting ineffective resistance by city police, murdered Blacks, destroyed and looted their homes and businesses. Blacks attempted to resist, but were outnumbered. Some Blacks were arrested for arming themselves in self-defense. When the four days of rioting ended, ten Blacks and two whites were dead, hundreds were injured, and over a thousand fled the city.
During August 1908, in Springfield, Illinois, , a three-day riot took place, initiated by a white woman’s claim of violation by a Negro. Inflamed by newspapers sensationalism, crowds of whites gathered around the jail demanding that the Negro, who had been arrested and imprisoned, be lynched. When the sheriff transferred the accused and another Negro to a jail in a nearby town, white mobs headed for the Negro section and attacked homes and businesses.
Two Blacks were lynched, others were dragged from their houses and streetcars and beaten. By the time the National Guardsmen reached the scene, six persons were deadfour whites and two Negroes. This riot, in the home town of Abraham Lincoln, shocked white liberals, who met the following year in New York City, with several prominent Blacks, to form the NAACP to promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice…
In 1917, the East St. Louis, Illinois riot was touched off by the fear of white working men that Negro advances in economic, political and social status were threatening their own status. When the labor force of an aluminum plant went on strike in April, the company hired Negro workers. Although the strike was crushed by a combination of militia, injunctions, and both Black and white strike breakers, the union blamed its defeat on the Blacks.
A union meeting in May demanded that East St. Louis must remain a white mans town. A riot followed, sparked by a white man, during which mobs demolished buildings and Blacks were attacked and beaten. Policemen did little more than take the injured to hospitals and disarm Negroes. Harassments and beatings continued through June.
On July 1, some whites in a Ford drove through the main Negro district, shooting into homes. Blacks armed themselves. When a police car, also a Ford, drove down the street to investigate, the Blacks fired on it, killing two policemen. The next day, as reports of the shooting spread, a new riot began. Streetcars were stopped, Blacks were pulled off, stoned, clubbed, kicked and shot.
Other rioters set fire to Black homes. By midnight the Black section was in flames and Blacks were fleeing the city. The official casualty figures were nine whites and thirty-nine Blacks, hundreds wounded, but the NAACP investigators estimated that between one hundred to two hundred Blacks were killed.14 Over three hundred buildings were destroyed.
In July 1919, the worst of the post-War race riots took place in Chicago, Illinois. It began . . . when a young Black encroached upon a swimming area that the whites had marked off for themselves, and was stoned until he drowned. By the time the riot ended, thirteen days later, thousands of both races had been involved in a series of frays, fifteen whites and twenty-three Negroes were killed, and 178 whites and 342 Blacks were injured. More than one thousand families, mostly Blacks, were left homeless due to the burnings and general destruction of property.
From May 31 to June 1, 1921, the Tulsa, Oklahoma riot took place . A white girl charged a Black youth with attempted rape in an elevator in a public building. The youth was arrested and imprisoned. Armed Blacks came to the jail to protect the accused youth, who, it was rumored, would be lynched. Altercations between whites and Blacks at the jail led to a race war.
A mob, numbering more than ten thousand attacked the Black district. Machine-guns were brought into use; eight aeroplanes were employed to spy on the movements of the Negroes and according to some were used in bombing the colored section.15 Four companies of the National Guard were called out, but by the time order was restored, fifty whites and between 150 and 200 Blacks were killed. Many homes were looted and $1,500,000 worth of property was destroyed by fire.
In 1943 the riot in Detroit, Michigan flared from the increased racial friction over the sharp rise in the Negro population, which led to competition with whites on the job and housing markets. On June 20, rioting broke out on Belle Isle, a recreational area used by both races but predominately by Negroes. Fist fights escalated into a major conflict.
The first wave of looting and bloodshed began in the Black ghetto Paradise Valley and later spread to other sections of the city. White mobs attacked Blacks in the downtown area, and traveled into Black neighborhoods by car, where they were met by sniping. By the time federal troops arrived to halt the riot, 25 Blacks and nine whites were killed and property damaged exceeded $2 million.16
Race riots were caused by a great number of social, political and economic factors. Joseph Boskin, author of Urban Racial Violence observed that there were certain general patterns in the major twentieth century race riots:17
1. In each of the race riots, with few exceptions, it was white people that sparked the incident by attacking Black people.
2. In the majority of the riots, some extraordinary social condition prevailed at the time of the riot: prewar social changes, wartime mobility, post-war adjustment, or economic depression.
3. The majority of the riots occurred during the hot summer months.
4. Rumor played an extremely important role in causing many riots. Rumors of some criminal activity by Blacks against whites perpetuated the actions of white mobs.
5. The police force, more than any other institution, was invariably involved as a precipitating cause or perpetuating factor in the riots. In almost every one of the riots, the police sided with the attackers, either by actually participating in, or by failing to quell the attack.
6. In almost every instance, the fighting occurred within the Black community.
The Black American community responded to white mob violence in several ways. Black people resisted this oppression. This resistance was expressed in three ways: retaliatory violence, Northward migration, and organized non-violent protest.
There are records of numerous instances of individual and collective acts of Black retaliatory violence. Although retaliatory violence seemed unreasonable, and often led to more lynching and violence, Blacks frequently armed themselves and fought back in self-defense.
Several Black leaders advocated self-defense against mob attack. Through the pages of The Crisis, W. E. B. DuBois occasionally encouraged Blacks to fight back. If we are to die, he angrily wrote after a Pennsylvania mob lynched a Negro in 1911 in Gods name let us not perish like bales of hay. Lynching, said DuBois, would stop in the South when the cowardly mob is faced with effective guns in the hands of the people determined to sell their souls dearly, (Oct. 1916).
A. Phillip Randolph, editor of the militant Socialist monthly, The Messenger, also advocated physical resistance to white mobs: The black man has no rights which will be respected unless the black man enforces that respect…We are consequently urging Negroes and other oppressed groups concerned with lynching and mob violence to act upon the recognized and accepted law of self-defense.18 The NAACP, considered moderate by Randolph, also defended the legality of Black retaliatory self-defense from mob attack.
Poet Claude McKay, in 1921, captured the sentiment of many militant Negroes in his poem, If We Must Die: If we must die/let it not be like hogs: hunted and penned in an accursed spot!/…If we must die; oh let us nobly die/ dying but fighting back.19
By the First World War, Blacks were increasingly armed and prepared to defend themselves from mob violence in many parts of the country, even in the deep South. In one case, the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee was advised, The Negroes would not make trouble unless they were attacked, but in that event they were prepared to defend themselves. Most of the race riots were the result of Negro retaliation to white acts of persecution and violence. However, in most cases, because of the overwhelming white numerical superiority, Negro armed resistance was futile.
Another response of disillusioned Black people to the southern reign of terror was the Great Migration which began shortly before World War I. In the decade between 1910 and 1920, more than five hundred thousand Blacks fled from the social and political oppression of the South to the overcrowded industrial centers of the North. The number of Blacks in Northern cities increased substantially. Despite southern efforts to halt the Black exodus, the annual rate of Black northward migration reached seventy-five thousand by the 1920s.
Organized non-violent protest, educating public opinion about the barbarity of lynching, and the passage of federal anti-lynchings legislation were seen by many Black leaders to be the most effective weapons against anti-Black mob violence. The pioneer organizer of the crusade against lynching was a Black woman named Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Mrs. Barnett, editor of the Memphis Free Speech, had more to do with originating and carrying forward the anti-lynching crusade than any other person. Almost single-handedly, she rallied anti-lynching sentiment in the United states and England. She served as chairman of the Anti-Lynching Bureau of the Afro-American Council. Mrs. Wells published several pamphlets exposing the barbarity of lynchings, including A Red Record written in 1894.
The struggle of Black leaders and organizations to make lynchings a federal crime was long and futile. At the beginning of the twentieth century, such organizations as the Afro-American Council and the Niagara Movement, precursors of the NAACP, demanded investigation of lynchings and legislation to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. In 1900, Negro Congressman George White introduced Americas first anti-lynching bill, only to see it die in the House Judiciary Committee.
In the first year of its existence, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People launched a vigorous campaign against lynching and all forms of racism and discrimination. By 1918, The Crisis, the NAACP organ, was alerting one hundred thousand people each month to the horrors of mob violence and the demands of Black America. The NAACPs Legal Redress Committee attacked segregation and discrimination in the courts. The NAACPs attempts to secure federal anti-lynching legislation, such as the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill, were unsuccessful. However, the Associations nationwide and interracial fight against lynching eventually helped reduce the annual number of lynchings in the United States.
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James E. Cutler, Lynch Law (New York, 1905), p. 1.
Edward B. Revter, The American Race Problem (New York, 1927), p. 367.
Guzman, Jessie P., ed., 1952 Negro Yearbook (New York, 1952), pp. 275-279.
Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma (New York, 1944), pp. 560-561.
Guzman, op. cit., p. 275-279.
Myrdal, op. cit., p. 561.
Ibid., pp. 561-562.
Walter White, Rope and Faggot (New York, 1929), p. 227.
Cutler, op. cit., p. 224.
A. Arthur Raper, The Tragedy of Lynching (Chapel Hill, 1933), pp. 13-14.
Myrdal, op. cit., pp. 563-564.
White, op. cit., p. 97.
Myrdal, op. cit., p. 566.
Elliot M. Rudwick, Race Riot in East St, Louis (New York, 1964), p. 50.
Joseph Boskin, Urban Racial Violence (Beverly Hills, 1976), p. 37.
Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (New York, 1968), p. 244.
Boskin, op. cit., pp. 14-15.
Hugh Davis Graham and Ted Robert Gurr, Violence in America (New York, 1969), p. 402.
Ibid., p. 402.
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Urban Race Riots in the Jim Crow Era: An Overview Essay
By Derrick Ward
The violent, racial confrontations in which mobs of whites and blacks battled each other in U.S. towns and cities during the Jim Crow era were triggered by some of the same forces driving legalized segregation, disfranchisement, and the lynching of thousands of African Americans. These explosions of urban violence against blacks differed in several ways from the individual lynchings and systematic terror practiced by organizations, such as the Ku Klux Klan, in the 1870s. For one thing, the urban explosions were directed less at individuals and more at entire black communities.
They also reflected more the anxieties felt by lower-class whites, who feared competition with blacks for housing, employment, and social status as African-American newcomers began moving into urban settings following the Civil War. Also, although whites–who felt enraged by some real or imaginary actions by blacks–always started these riots, black victims increasingly defended themselves as best they could. Clearly, the race riots also were backlashes by white Americans who reacted with contempt and rage to black Americans’ cries for equality, justice, and decency.
In general, the riots can be studied according to different waves of white violence. The first wave occurred in the post-bellum era of Reconstruction. Southern defeat, emancipation, and the dramatic changes in the political and civil rights of blacks in the decade after the Civil War presented dramatic challenges to white supremacy. White supremacists, desperate to regain their political power and restore their control over the recently emancipated African Americans, instigated the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and its members’ terrorist attacks on individual blacks and white Republicans in the South, as well as mob attacks on southern black communities.
Relatively few whites were killed in these affairs, which peaked in the two years before the 1876 presidential election. Some of the more serious outbreaks occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana (1866), (1868), (1874), Memphis, Tennessee (1866), Meridian, Mississippi (1870), Vicksburg, Mississippi (1874), and Yazoo City, Mississippi (1875).
The second wave of riots, erupting in the last decade of the 19th and the first decade of the 20th centuries, reflected the new era of stepped-up Jim Crow rhetoric and attempts to legalize segregation and disfranchisement. Whites all over the nation participated in this outbreak of racial politics, including many who feared better relations among white and black farmers and the working poor posed by the Populist Movement.
In this atmosphere, white supremacists used the same racist justifications to violence as those who lynched individual blacks: namely, the alleged desire of black men to rape white women. This decade also saw the codification of Jim Crow segregation laws and the passage of disfranchisement statutes and codes in most of the southern states. The United States Supreme Court upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine in their 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, throwing the country’s High Court on the side of white supremacy.
At the same time, blacks began moving in ever-growing numbers to urban centers, competing with lower-class whites for housing and employment, while growing numbers of African-American professionals and officeholders began successfully competing with their white counterparts for jobs. With all of these factors in play, white violence erupted in many small towns and villages, and at least ten–four of them in northern cities–escalated into major race riots: Lake City, North Carolina (1898); Wilmington, North Carolina (1898); Greenwood County, South Carolina (1898); New Orleans, Louisiana (1900); New York City, New York (1900); Springfield, Ohio (1904); Atlanta, Georgia (1906); Greenburg, Indiana (1906); Brownsville, Texas (1906); and Springfield, Illinois (1908).
The cluster of race riots, the third wave, that broke out around the World War I period reflected both the demands for justice by angry African Americans and the increasing competition between blacks and whites brought on by the war and the black migration to urban areas in the North.
In 1915, the new Ku Klux Klan spread nationwide and signs of more virulent racism appeared in popular culture–such as in the film Birth of A Nation and in advertising–across the country.
These events fueled the already uneasy fears of many lower-class whites about the growing presence of blacks in their midst. As thousands of young men went off to war, labor shortages lured larger numbers of black and white workers into urban centers throughout the nation. Blacks began moving into previously all-white neighborhoods, creating friction between the races. As black servicemen returned from Europe, they found the old racial hostilities unacceptable after having fought in a “war to make the world safe for democracy.”
These black veterans, in the minds of many whites, had become too “uppity” overseas and posed a threat to white women as well as the social status of all white men.
Between 1917and 1921, an unprecedented outbreak of racial violence swept across the nation. Over 20 race riots broke out between April and October 1919 alone, a six-month period remembered as the “Red Summer.” Among the most deadly outbreaks were those in East St. Louis, Illinois (1917); Chester, Pennsylvania (1917); Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1917); Houston, Texas (1917); Washington, D.C. (1919); Chicago, Illinois (1919); Omaha, Nebraska (1919); Charleston, South Carolina (1919), Longview, Texas (1919); Knoxville, Tennessee (1919); Elaine, Arkansas (1919); and Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921).
After the 1921 Tulsa riot and except for the 1935 New York (Harlem) disturbances, no major racial riots occurred until the world war era of the 1940s. Many of the same domestic demographic and social changes affecting blacks and whites that had unfolded during 1919 accompanied World War II, but this time, on a larger scale. The competition between increasing numbers of working-class blacks and whites for housing and employment in urban areas again set the stage for racial conflict. Though the race riots during the World War II era race were far fewer (only three) than their World War I precursors, they no less violent.
The 1943 Detroit riot, for example, resulted in the deaths of 25 African Americans and nine whites. The other two riots occurred in New York City (Harlem) and Columbia, Tennessee, in 1943. Eight years later, the last major race riot before the 1960s inner city explosions (which most historians view as rebellions rather than race riots) erupted in Cicero, Illinois (1951).
Although urban race riots in the United States between 1866-1951 were unique episodes rooted in the particular historic situation of each place, they shared certain characteristics. To begin with, the whites always prevailed, and the overwhelming majority of those who died and were wounded in all of these incidents were blacks. They also tended to break out in clusters during times of significant socio-economic, political, and demographic upheaval when racial demographics were altered and existing racial mores and boundaries challenged.
Perhaps most importantly, the riots usually provoked defensive stances by members of the black communities who defended themselves and their families under attack. Seldom did the violence spill over into white neighborhoods. Finally, the riots greatly strengthened the resolve of blacks to challenge white supremacy legally, intellectually, and emotionally–producing greater efforts by organizations like the NAACP and leaders such as W. E. B. Du Bois, as well as an outpouring of black cultural manifestations of defiance identified with the “New Negro Movement” of the Harlem Renaissance.
Bergman, Peter M. The Chronological History of the Negro in America. New York: Harper and Row, 1969.
Brown, Richard Maxwell. Strain of Violence: Historical Studies of American Violence and Vigilantism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1975.
Rable, George C. But There Was no Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 1984.
Williamson, Joel. The Crucible of Race: Black-White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Wilson, Charles Reagan and William Ferris, eds. Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
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Blood in Their EyesBy Grif Stockley
Blood in Their Eyes is required reading for every Arkansas lawyer, because this time Grif Stockley reviews the work of a real Gideon Page, a black lawyer named Scipio Jones who read law to become licensed and became one of Arkansas’ outstanding lawyers. Jones is credited with one of the most important cases in American history, Moore v. Dempsey 261 U.S. 86(1923), and standing alone many times, saved the lives of 12 innocent, albeit convicted, black sharecroppers from Elaine, Arkansas. The Elaine race riot, as history until now has called it, is an awful blemish on Arkansas history. It is such a blemish that most historians have treated it lightly or shied away from it. But Grif Stockley, an outstanding Arkansas lawyer in his own right, is not known for shying away from much of anything, and he tackles the issue head on in his first writing on Arkansas history. In typical lawyer fashion Stockley analyzes the facts and writes his brief in
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Otis G. Clark survivor of 1921 Tulsa race riot dies at 109Matt Schudel26 May 2012For years, few people dared to speak about what happened on the night of May 31, 1921, during one of the most deadly and devastating race riots in the nations history. Otis G. Clark, who was 18 at the time, had grown up in Greenwood, a thriving African American section of Tulsa. During a night that history almost forgot, Mr. Clark dodged bullets, raced through alleys to escape armed mobs and saw his familys home burned to the ground. He fled Tulsa on a freight train headed north. He would eventually move to Los Angeles, where he was the butler in the home of movie star Joan Crawford. He later turned to preaching and was known as the worlds oldest evangelist. But for nine decades, he remained a living witness to a night of horror, when Greenwood died. Mr. Clark died May 21 in Seattle at age 109, family members told the Tulsa World newspaper. The cause of death was not disclosed. . . . A state commission finally issued a report on the riot in 2001.
Otis Granville Clark was born Feb. 13, 1903, in Meridian, Okla., four years before Oklahoma became a state. His father worked for the railroad. In a 2009 interview for a Tulsa oral history project, Mr. Clark said one of his jobs as a boy was selling vegetables and groceries to a house occupied by what he called sportin women.WashingtonPost / Tulsaworld / adlercent
Otis G. Clark was born on February 13, 1903, in Oklahoma. At the time, Oklahoma was still Indian Territory and it did not become a state until 1907. At the age of 18, Otis was caught in the “1921 Tulsa Race Riot” in the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greenwood, at the time, was a mecca for African-Americans who, due to the oil boom, owned their own successful businesses. Otis fled Tulsa, riding the rails to California, seeking his biological father.adlercentenarians
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By Russell Simmons
Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”
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By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationPublishers Weekly
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By Tim Madigan
Journalist Madigan (See No Evil: Blind Devotion and Bloodshed in David Koresh’s Holy War) here tackles one of America’s worst race riots, chronicling the shocking events of May 31 and June 1, 1921 when a white mob numbering in the thousands obliterated the African American community of Greenwood, OK, near Tulsa. Race riots and tensions were very common after World War I, but what makes the Greenwood incident unique was the unheard-of organization of the mob and the completeness of the destruction (35 city blocks systematically burned and destroyed along with hundreds of casualties). Though it is arguably America’s worst race riot, surprisingly little has been written about it in the mainstream press. For this work, Madigan relied on taped interviews of survivors and witnesses, newspaper accounts, scholarly papers and theses, and interviews with the descendants of survivors. What results is a highly readable account of the circumstances and history surrounding the event and its aftermath. Truly an eye-opening book, this is essential reading for anyone struggling to understand race relations in America. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.Library Journal
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 1 April 2012