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Red Summer

Red Summer is the period from late winter through early autumn of 1919 during which white supremacist terrorism and racial riots took place in more than three dozen cities across the United States, as well as in one rural county in Arkansas.


Between 27 July and 3 August 1919, violence erupted between black and white Chicagoan's, leaving 38 people dead (23 of them black, 15 of them white) and 537 injured. Riots also broke out in other US cities and towns, causing the summer of 1919 to be known at the Red Summer – but few people today know it happened


The term "Red Summer" was coined by civil rights activist and author James Weldon Johnson, who had been employed as a field secretary by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1916. In 1919, he organized peaceful protests against the racial violence which had occurred that summer.


A crowd of men and armed National Guard during the 1919 race riots in Chicago. Photograph: Chicago History Museum/AP. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive



Chicago's race riots


A victim is stoned and bludgeoned under a corner of a house during the race riots in Chicago. The riots began after a black 17-year-old, Eugene Williams, accidentally drifted into a white area while swimming in Lake Michigan. White youth gang members threw rocks at him – he drowned after one struck his head. Police refused to arrest the white man eyewitnesses said had caused Williams’ death

Photograph: Stephen Jensen/AP








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