Red Summer

The term “Red Summer” in history refers to a time period in 1919 where race riots rapidly rose to unfortunate popularity in both the North and the South. These anti-black white supremacy based terrorist attacks occurred on the soil of more than three dozen cities, most notably in Chicago Washington D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas. It was a chaotic time period of racial massacres, all started by white people who historically survived these events by drastic numbers compared to people of color. On July 1919, this chaotic month long series of massacres, noted as the summers largest amount of violence, was started because of a stone throwing fight between black and white citizens in Chicago. While this was happening, Eugene Williams, a 17 year old black Chicago resident was drowned after accidentally swimming in an unofficially segregated “white only” area of a Chicago beach. The white police officer called to the scene failed to arrest the white men responsible for the death, and instead arrested an innocent black man despite eyewitnesses being able to identify the responsible party. Of course, all of the eyewitnesses were black. 

Racial tensions rose to a massive high over this, causing gangs from both black and white sides of the fight, eventually escalating to horrible violence. For 13 days, Chicago was in a state of chaos, 23 black and 15 white people were dead, 537 injured,  and 1,000 black families were left homeless when their homes were torched by rioters. After the riots ended, formal segregated zoning laws were suggested, as well as segregated work environments to prevent racial tensions and violence. The black community and left wing white voters were against the idea, and Chicago officials instead created measures to find the root causes of the riots, eventually suggesting that it was based around job inequality, redlining, and corrupt (racist) law enforcement officials. All of this came down to one final point though, because of all of these root problems and the many more that the group didn’t discuss, marginalized groups were becoming more and more willing to fight back against the injustices and segregation they were forced to face because of the color of their skin. 

After the Chicago Race Riots, white people on the wrong side of history were shocked that the black community was fighting back against the injustices. The summer was filled with violence across the country, eventually resulting in 38 separate racially motivated riots by the Fall of 1919. The media’s involvement in covering the riots quickly caused a lot of fear surrounding communist influence and support for the black civil rights movement, regardless of the good the socialist and communist groups in the US were doing. 


No Comments

Leave a Comment