top of page

Reflections on the Election 2020 Part 21

In the last article, we surveyed or studied the violence that was almost exclusively directed towards individuals or a small group of individuals- twos, and threes. Now I want to turn our attention toward mob violence in which whole communities were destroyed or massacres took place.

The New York Draft Riots of 1863

One of the worst cases of mob attacks on AA took place in New York City in 1863. In Dr. Gates's massive tome, The Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience written by Robert Fay records the story of the 1863 riots. I want to quote the article in its entirety. I feel that the reader should get full and accurate teaching of the horrific attacks on Black people in Northern American cities like Toledo, Cincinnati, Harrisburg, and Detroit, the economic and social disruption caused by the Civil war led to violence-directed acts at free Northern Blacks. But the New York City Draft Riots of 1863 were by far the most violent. Factors contributing to the riots were labor unrest, unfair draft laws, an unpopular war, ethnic tensions, and disruptive gangs. Before the 1840s New York City Blacks held most of the cities jobs as long showmen, hod carriers, brick makers, barbers, waiters, and domestic servants. Irish immigrants, particularly those arriving after 1846, competed with Blacks for these unskilled jobs and eventually gained control of the occupations, leaving many Blacks to work only as strikebreakers.

The animosity between New York whites and blacks was further intensified by the Emancipation Proclamation. Democratic politicians used it to their advantage, by claiming paradoxically, that Republicans would transport free people to New York to replace white workers while lazy Blacks lived on relief services provided by industrious whites. Shortly after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Congress passed the Conscription Act, which had a provision allowing a draftee to decline service for a $200 fee. This financial arrangement widened______.

The three-day riot began on July 13th as a protest of the Conscription Act. After the protestors, many of them Irish laborers destroyed draft headquarters, they roamed the streets at times raising entire city blocks, cutting telegraph lines, tearing up railroad tracks, and causing factories and shops to be closed. They assaulted the officers of the New York __ tribute trying to find the pro-union editor Harris Greeley, and they attacked the home of the city’s provost marshal.

The mob then split into groups. Some destroyed mansions: others attacked the mayor's house in a failed attempt to level it. Still, others targeted New York Black residents with intense violence. They terrorized Blacks, burned the Color Orphan Asylum, and looted the Colored Home. They raided and destroyed homes, they shot, charged, clubbed, burned, and hanged black victims. Eleven blacks were killed by rioters. Most Blacks fled the city, but a few desperately sought the sanctuary of police-stations jail cells. Union army regiments-including some men returning from the Battle of Gettysburg- finally restored order Though New York City merchants raised 50,000 to raise Black victims and rebuild the Colored Orphan Asylum the psychic scars remain. By 1865 New York's black population had decreased by 20% from 12,072 to 9,945, because of the fear arising from the three-night uprising in July 1863.

In addition to the New York Riots there were many other white mob violence against Black communities:

Colfax, Louisiana April 1883

One hundred and fifty Black men were murdered by whites with guns and canons for trying to assemble at the courthouse.

Because anything was thrown in the red river the exact count of the massacre wasn’t known and hardly would ever be known. But rest assured it was far more than the hundred and fifty.

Wilmington, North Carolina 1898

In 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina had a majority Black population. There were several elected officials and the communities were thriving economically.

The media in Wilmington, as all over the U.S.A., reported inflammatory speeches about white supremacists. By 1898, Black men were prevented from voting forcing the Black elected officials out of office. (The same old bloody story as it relates to the electoral process) But, in spite of the vicious attacks by whites, they couldn’t stop Black economic power, so they devastated Wilmington.

The day after the election whites overthrew the government, destroyed the printing press, and forced out the mayor. Sixty to three-hundred black people were killed.

Atlanta Massacre 1906

On September 22nd, 1906 Atlanta newspaper reported four white women claimed they were assaulted by Black men. The allegations were totally untrue. (Probably they wished it were so. These lies of white women attacked by Black men are probably erotic fantasies. After all white women knew that what they were claiming happened to them was the opposite. White men were attacking Black women.)

The lies of sexual assault drove over two thousand white terrorists into the streets. They beat, stabbed, and killed any Black person they met. Whole communities were destroyed and over one hundred Blacks were killed according to the official count. Probably many, many more than that were killed, beaten, stabbed _____and confiscated. (WEB Du Bois poem A Litany of Atlanta)

Two of the most famous white mob terrorist attacks were in Tulsa.

Tulsa, Oklahoma May 1921

On the above date, a white girl accused a Black teenager of assault in Downtown Tulsa. This sparked a wave of white terror attacks equal to, and by some accounts, surpassed anything equal to white barbarism in Tulsa.

Three hundred, and probably far more Black people were murdered. The communities that are thriving communities were destroyed. The Black community was called the Black Wall Street. When the rampaging blood-thirsty whites were finished death and destruction were everywhere.

Rosewood, Florida 1923

On January 1st, 1923, a white woman Fannie Taylor claimed she was assaulted by a Black man (Here we go again, and I repeat I am convinced that at least some of these white women were fantasizing.) The first person killed was Sam Carter, a respected blacksmith resident. He was tortured and mutilated. His body hung from a tree, left there to the delight of the gazing crowd of whites.

After Rosewood was destroyed a grand jury and special prosecutor decided there wasn’t enough evidence of white men killing innocent Blacks.

In Brooklyn, New York we had our own Red Summer we called it the History of the Bloody Summer of 78’

The Great Scholar W.E.B Du Bois who was living and teaching in Atlanta at the time of the riot captured the bloody scene and the deep emotional reaction.

To be continued...

Related Posts

See All

Reflections on the Election 2020 Part 1

Unless God Intervenes Leaving my television on while watching one of my old sitcoms, as they used to call them, I was awakened around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, November 1st, to the Jeffersons “Movin’ on up”,

Reflections on Election 2020 Part 2

God Intervenes Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 the day of the election had arrived. At 5 a.m. I headed to Brooklyn to cast my ballot. It was a towering challenge for me to return to Brooklyn to vote. I di

Reflections on Election 2020 Part 3

Remembering Jesse Jackson and Arthur Eve Campaigns My mind raced back to the Reverend Jesse Jackson campaign in 1983 and 1984. In September 1983 Rev. Jackson asked Assemblyman Al Vann and me to organi


bottom of page