“What I saw was bad enough, and yet I cannot tell all that I saw.” – “Events of the Tulsa Disaster,” by Mary E. Jones Parrish
“The South lost the Civil War. The South’s response to that loss was that it was going to win the race war.”
1863: Detroit, Michigan On March 6, 1863, a tavern owner named William Faulkner was found guilty of sexually assaulting a White girl. Outside the courthouse, a mostly White crowd clashed with officials as they tried to get at Faulkner.
When they couldn’t, they roamed Detroit’s streets, attacking African Americans and setting buildings on fire, which left nearly 200 Black residents homeless. Local papers had called Faulkner a “negro,” though Faulkner said he was Spanish Indian. Faulkner’s accusers later recanted, and he was released from prison, as noted in research by the late Matthew Kundinger when he was a University of Michigan history student. (Michigan Journal of History)
1875: Clinton, Mississippi On September 4, 1875, between 1,500 and 2,500 people, most of whom were newly enfranchised Black Republicans and their families, gathered at the site of a former plantation for a picnic and political rally ahead of an election.
A White Democrat who’d been invited to the event heckled a speaker, inciting a fight. Witnesses said the White Democrats turned their weapons on the crowd and started firing. In the days after, a “presumed race riot” became a “massacre.” (Mississippi Encyclopedia)
“Once upon a time in the West, there were over 200 Chinese communities until the Chinese [people] who lived in them were driven out.”
1877: San Francisco, California Weary of the high unemployment brought on by a depression, White Americans and recent European immigrants turned on the city’s thousands of Chinese workers. On July 23, 1877, around 8,000 people gathered for a labor rally in front of City Hall. Violence broke out and the rally turned into an anti-Chinese mob that set fire to a city wharf before torching, looting and murdering its way through the city’s long-established Chinatown. (SF GATE)
1885: Rock Springs, Wyoming In the mid-1800s, Chinese immigrants started flowing into the US in search of gold. When the gold rush ended, Chinese people found jobs throughout the country. At a coal mine in Wyoming, White Americans and European immigrants resented the Chinese laborers for accepting lower wages and lashed out.
When a fight broke out between the workers on September 2, 1885, White miners gathered weapons, surrounded the Chinese enclave in Rock Springs, killed 28 Chinese men and burned down 79 of their shacks and houses. (WyoHistory.org)
“Entire communities of people were being effectively reduced overnight to the lower class.”
1917: East St. Louis “I saw negro women begging for mercy and pleading that they had harmed no one, set upon by white women of the baser sort, who laughed and answered the coarse sallies of men as thy beat the negresses’ faces and breasts with fists, stones and sticks,” wrote reporter Carlos F. Hurd — the day after watching a White mob stone and murder Black people indiscriminately on the streets of East St. Louis on July 2, 1917.
The mob killed nearly 50 people, mostly Black, and drove 6,000 from the city. The mob had formed because of an earlier incident that began with a White man in a Ford who’d been shooting into Black homes. Black residents had armed themselves and fired on two men approaching in a car, killing them. Those men later turned out to be police officers. (St. Louis Post Dispatch Archive)
1919: Corbin, Kentucky Known for being the birthplace of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Corbin is still grappling with its history as a “sundown town.” On October 30 and 31, 1919, an armed mob forced out hundreds of Black residents, bringing in extra rail cars to send them out of town.
From that point on, Black residents simply weren’t welcome there. Corbin was one of thousands of White-only communities throughout the US that became known as a “sundown town,” and remains predominantly White.
1923: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Tulsa wasn’t alone. There were dozens of massacres
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