The United States fought in World War I to make the world safe for democracy. After victory, African Americans carried on that mission—at home. But the defenders of white supremacy did not make way for the rights and equalities of African Americans. During 1919, white mobs lynched more than seventy-five blacks, including eleven veterans, seven cities experienced so- called race riots in which whites violently attacked blacks, and dozens of lesser, racially charged disturbances broke out across the country. Why was there so much racial violence in 1919? How did African Americans respond to and resist, often with arms, white attacks? What was the role of the federal government, especially the military and the Bureau of Investigation (forerunner of the FBI), in the racial violence? In addressing these questions, we will use the Newberry Library’s collections to focus on the Chicago riot, which took the lives of almost forty people.
Seminar led by David Krugler, University of Wisconsin at Platteville