Race Riots

Destruction of Black Wealth

"Black Wall Street" was the nickname of the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma and was one of the most successful and wealthiest African American communities in the United States during the early 20th Century, until the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

The black community of Greenwood had pull themselves up by their bootstraps so well that the white community became extremely jealous of their success; stole what they could carry away, killed hundreds of innocent people then bombed and burned down the entire area. Tulsa city officials, newspapers, law enforcement, courts and others conspired to conceal the truth. 

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Additional information about the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, see:

thin separator lineRosewood, Fl

Two years after the Tulsa Race Riot in 1923, a similar incident occurred in Florida which destroyed the city of Rosewood. The riot started when white men from several nearby towns lynched a black Rosewood resident because of unsupported accusations that a white woman in nearby Sumner had been beaten and possibly raped by a black drifter. When the town's black citizens rallied together to defend themselves against further attacks, a mob of several hundred whites combed the countryside hunting for black people, and burned almost every structure in Rosewood. Survivors from the town hid for several days in nearby swamps until they were evacuated by train and car to larger towns. Although state and local authorities were aware of the violence, no arrests were made for what happened in Rosewood. The town was abandoned by its former black residents; none ever moved back.The Movie Rosewood was based on this event.


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Columbia, TN

The 1946 Columbia, TN Race Riot' began as a fight between James Stephenson, a black Navy veteran, and a white shopkeeper apparently ignited the event, resulting in various incidents of shooting, fighting, and rioting between whites and blacks in a part of Columbia known as "Mink Slide", a name for the black business district. Several people were eventually charged with rioting and attempted murder. The main attorney to defend Stephenson in the case was Thurgood Marshall, who would later become the first black United States Supreme Court justice.


thin separator lineThe Elaine race riot, also called the Elaine massacre, occurred September 30, 1919 in the town of Elaine, Arkansas, in the Arkansas Delta.

Approximately 100 African-American farmers, led by Robert L. Hill, the founder of the Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America, met at a church in Hoop Spur, near Elaine. The purpose was "to obtain better payments for their cotton crops from the white plantation owners who dominated the area during the Jim Crow era. Black sharecroppers were often exploited in their efforts to collect payment for their cotton crops."  Whites resisted such organizing by blacks, and two went to the meeting.

In a conflict, guards shot one of the white men. Violence ensued in the town and county, leaving five whites and 100-200 blacks dead. The only men prosecuted in the events were 115 African Americans, of whom 12 were quickly convicted and sentenced to death for murder. Their cases went to the United States Supreme Court, where the convictions were overturned on appeal. In the closing days of Governor Thomas McRae's administration, he freed most of the defendants, who were helped to leave the state to avoid being lynched.

The Elaine race riot Part 1


The Elaine race riot Part 2


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The Omaha Race Riot occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 28–29, 1919. The race riot resulted in the brutal lynching of Will Brown, a black worker; the death of two white men; the attempted hanging of Mayor Edward Parsons Smith; and a public rampage by thousands of whites who set fire to the Douglas County Courthouse in downtown Omaha. It followed more than 20 race riots that occurred in major industrial cities of the United States during the Red Summer of 1919.


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East St. Louis Race Riots

The East St. Louis riot (May and July 1917) caused between 40 and 200 mostly black deaths and extensive property damage. Six thousand blacks were left homeless after their neighborhood was burned.

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Detroit Race Riot of 1943

The Detroit race riot broke out in Detroit, Michigan, on June 20, 1943, on Belle Isle after atercations between black and white youthsand started.  A fist fight broke out when a white sailor's girlfriend was insulted by a black man. The brawl eventually grew into a confrontation between groups of blacks and whites and then spread into the city.

The riot escalated with a rumor that a mob of whites had thrown an African-American mother and her baby into the Detroit River. Another rumor swept white neighborhoods that blacks had raped and murdered a white woman on the Belle Isle Bridge. Angry mobs of whites spilled onto Woodward near the Roxy Theater around 4 a.m., beating blacks as they were getting off street cars.

Stores were looted and buildings were burned in the riot, most of them in a black neighborhood in and around Paradise Valley, one of the oldest and poorest neighborhoods in Detroit. The clashes soon escalated to the point where black and white mobs were “assaulting one another, beating innocent motorists, pedestrians and streetcar passengers, burning cars, destroying storefronts and looting businesses." Both sides were said to have encouraged others to join in the riots with false claims that one of "their own" was attacked unjustly.

Over the course of three days, 34 people were killed. Of them, 25 were African–Americans, 17 of whom were killed by the police. Thirteen murders remain unsolved. Out of the approximately 600 injured, black people accounted for more than 75 percent and of the roughly 1,800 people who were arrested over the course of the three-day riots, black people accounted for 85 percent. Federal troops finally restored peace to the streets of Detroit. 


thin separator lineThe Springfield race riot of 1908 occurred in Springfield, Illinois on August 14 and 15, 1908, sparked by two African Americans suspects in alleged violent crimes against whites. When a white mob seeking to take the men for lynching discovered the sheriff had transferred them out of the city, the white mob rioted in black neighborhoods. They killed black citizens on the street and destroyed businesses and homes.


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