THE RED SUMMER OF 1919, 100 YEARS LATER

Black workers and soldiers protect their neighborhood

by Ellen Isaacs

Red, as in blood.  The summer of 1919 earned this label not only because the murderous nature of American white racism was on full display, but mass armed resistance by its black targets became the frequent reaction. In many instances, law enforcement, federal troops and the judicial system aided or abetted racist violence. Often they raised the specter of the red, as in communist, menace to justify themselves. Occasionally whites and blacks reacted together against racist attacks. When, more often, they did not the struggle was weakened, a struggle for safety and jobs that could benefit all.

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