It was an unhappy and confusing time. As was to be the case a quarter-century later, at the end of World War II, black Americans who had fought for their country came home to find that the rights for which they had risked their lives on the battlefields of Europe were still denied them in their native land, not merely in the South but in the North.
Du Bois , James Weldon Johnson and Walter White — asserted themselves and began to steer the organization in a more active, assertive direction. Led by the NAACP and other groups, they began to assert themselves as equals — many for the first time in their lives. They started fighting in legislatures, courtrooms, and the streets to become full partners in the American democratic experiment.
Make no mistake, though, they were up against formidable and implacable forces. The release of black veterans into the work force, combined with the heavy black migration from the rural South to the big cities of the North, put them in direct competition for jobs with other underprivileged groups, many of them immigrants.
The Red Summer refers to the summer and early autumn of , which was marked by hundreds of deaths and higher casualties across the United States, as a. African American veterans returned home from World War I eager to continue the fight for freedom at home. In Elaine, Arkansas, whites attacked a meeting of black sharecroppers who were organizing to demand fairer treatment in the cotton market. Many African American soldiers.
Many white soldiers and sailors who had not yet been mustered out of the service harbored strong anti-black feelings — they often insisted, entirely without foundation, that blacks had been incompetent servicemen — and leaped at opportunities to beat blacks. In the Southern countryside, of course, Jim Crow was still going strong, along with the strong right hand with which it was enforced: In Elaine in Phillips County, turns out no one knows how many killed.
White Arkansas journalist L. Sharpe Dunaway claimed It all started with Blacks organizing themselves to get better prices for their cotton.
A quasi-secret dues joint stock society started up called the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America. One of their meetings was shot up by whites. Yet as whites rampaged and murdered Black people, this is the telegram sent by governor Charles Hillman Brough:. Another map, showing the best guesses for lynchings in this area from the New York Times:. At the end of all this? In Bogalusa a bit of good — unionizing the lumber yards, whites still had blacks set up their own separate union when they were brought in to break the white union. But they did manage to work together, and white union members defended black union members against a mob, giving up their lives.
I can see why McWhirter ended on this, as a bit of a high note after such a catalogue of death. Liberals always fall short on that. I stared at the pictures found together in a familiar insert in the middle of the book and was reminded of Hilton Als being asked to write a piece on lynching.
Thinking about the fear in the eyes of whites when he came near, but really, it is whites who should engender fear. So much reading, research, and this violence seeps in. I am afraid of white people, though I am one.
At least these men would have killed me for my beliefs, not just for the colour of my skin. I stare at them and do not understand…but surely this is where the fear in their own eyes comes from. To me there is no good came out of but for a new kind of pride that survived it, though it came along with wariness, and was often silent. The fact that white men had been lynched in the North as well, he argued, demonstrated the national nature of the overall problem: Persistence of unpunished lynchings of negroes fosters lawlessness among white men imbued with the mob spirit, and creates a spirit of bitterness among negroes.
In such a state of public mind a trivial incident can precipitate a riot. Disregard of law and legal process will inevitably lead to more and more frequent clashes and bloody encounters between white men and negroes and a condition of potential race war in many cities of the United States.
Unchecked mob violence creates hatred and intolerance, making impossible free and dispassionate discussion not only of race problems, but questions on which races and sections differ.
In mid-summer, in the middle of the Chicago racial violence against blacks, a federal official told The New York Times that the violence resulted from "an agitation, which involves the I. Debs with the "school boy rhetoric" of traditional black leaders. The Times characterized the publications as "vicious and apparently well financed", mentioned "certain factions of the radical Socialist elements", and reported it all under the headline: In response, some black leaders such as Bishop Charles Henry Phillips of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church asked black people to shun violence in favor of "patience" and "moral suasion.
I cannot believe that the negro was influenced by Bolshevist agents in the part he took in the rioting. It is not like him to be a traitor or a revolutionist who would destroy the Government. But then the reign of mob law to which he has so long lived in terror and the injustices to which he has had to submit have made him sensitive and impatient.
The connection between black people and Bolshevism was widely repeated. Haynes documented violence and inaction on the state level. The Times saw "bloodshed on a scale amounting to local insurrection" as evidence of "a new negro problem" because of "influences that are now working to drive a wedge of bitterness and hatred between the two races".
Washington , who had "steadily argued conciliatory methods". Every week the militant leaders gain more headway.
They may be divided into general classes. One consists of radicals and revolutionaries. They are spreading Bolshevist propaganda. It is reported that they are winning many recruits among the colored race. When the ignorance that exists among negroes in many sections of the country is taken into consideration the danger of inflaming them by revolutionary doctrine may [be] apprehended The other class of militant leaders confine their agitation to a fight against all forms of color discrimination.
They are for a program on uncompromising protest, "to fight and continue to fight for citizenship rights and full democratic privileges. As evidence of militancy and Bolshevism, the Times named W. Du Bois and quoted his editorial in The Crisis , which he edited:.
Today we raise the terrible weapon of self-defense When the armed lynchers gather, we too must gather armed. In mid-October government sources provided the Times with evidence of Bolshevist propaganda appealing to America's black communities. This account set Red propaganda in the black community into a broader context, since it was "paralleling the agitation that is being carried on in industrial centres of the North and West, where there are many alien laborers.
Soviet Russia, a country in which dozens of racial and lingual types have settled their many differences and found a common meeting ground, a country which no longer oppresses colonies, a country from which the lynch rope is banished and in which racial tolerance and peace now exist. The Times noted a call for unionization: Southern white capitalists know that the negroes can bring the white bourbon South to its knees. So go to it. Coverage of the root causes of the riot against black people in Elaine, Arkansas evolved as the violence stretched over several days.
Part of the headline was: During the Chicago racial violence against blacks, the press learned from Department of Justice officials that the IWW and Bolsheviks were "spreading propaganda to breed race hatred. One cited the work of the NAACP "urging the colored people to insist upon equality with white people and to resort to force, if necessary. Edgar Hoover , at the start of his career in government, analyzed the riots for the Attorney General.
He blamed the July Washington, D. He did not note the white perpetrators of violence, whose activities local authorities documented.