Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Facts

Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Facts
During the summer of 1919, a number of social and historical events came together to create the Chicago Race Riot, which lasted from July 27 to August 3. The riot could perhaps more appropriately be called the Chicago Race War, as it pitted African-Americans against European immigrants, mainly Irish and Irish-Americans, but also some Polish, German, and Italian immigrants. Historians point to many factors that led to the riot, including the Great Migration, where tens of thousands of black moved to the deep south the northern cities looking for work and other opportunities. Chicago had also to integrate all of the European immigrants who had arrived in the city in the previous decades and who were fiercely protective of their new neighborhoods. The Chicago riot was part of the larger Red Summer of 1919, which was when dozens of race riots took place around the country. Thirty-eight people died during the Chicago riot, twenty-three blacks and fifteen whites, and hundreds of buildings and homes were vandalized, looted, and burned to the ground.
Interesting Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Facts:
Most of the violence took place on the southside, close to the meatpacking plants where the Irish and blacks competed for work. Both ethnic groups were also densely populated on the southside with their neighborhoods often clearly separated by a single street.
William Hale Thompson (1869-1944) was the mayor of Chicago during the riot and was the last Republican mayor of the city.
Although blacks today make up about half of Chicago's population and the city is considered an African-American cultural center, they were less than ten percent of the population in 1919.
Despite being a significant minority in 1919, the share of the black population of Chicago increased by 148% from 1916 to 1919.
It is believed the violence began when whites began throwing rocks at black swimmers at a defacto segregated beach, resulting in the death of African-American Eugene Williams. When black residents objected that the perpetrators were not arrested, a white descended on the blacks.
Much of the violence was committed by ethnic Irish gangs such as Ragen's Colts.
Black youth gangs responded by clashing with the Irish gangs in the streets and attacking homes in white neighborhoods.
Some of the Irish youth gangs attempted to pull other European immigrants into the riot by conducting "false flags." They would attack the homes and businesses of Italians, Germans, Polish, and other Europeans and make it look like it was the work of the black gangs.
After a week of rioting, the governor of Illinois ordered 6,000 national guardsmen into the southside to quell the violence.
One policeman was killed in the riot.
Over 500 injuries were reported during the riot, two-thirds were black.
The riot crippled Chicago's economy for weeks and led to hundreds of the city's blacks returning the south.
The black neighborhoods on the southside were collectively referred to as the "Black Belt."
Seventeen black were indicted for rioting, but no one was ever prosecuted, white or black, for murder.


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