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Elaine Masacre in 1919 by Francine Uenuma

Elaine Massacre: The Bloodiest Racial Conflict in U.S. History

American streets ran with blood in 1919 during what would become known as “Red Summer”. In the small town of Elaine, Arkansas, racial tensions turned to riots after African-American sharecroppers tried to unionize. A staggering 237 people were estimated to be hunted down and killed in what is now known as the Elaine Massacre. The bloodbath made its way all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. This is “Dark History” by the New York Post.

The sharecroppers who gathered at a small church in Elaine, Arkansas, in the late hours of September 30, 1919, knew the risk they were taking. Upset about unfair low wages, they enlisted the help of a prominent white attorney from Little Rock, Ulysses Bratton, to come to Elaine to press for a fairer share in the profits of their labor. Each season, landowners came around demanding obscene percentages of the profits, without ever presenting the sharecroppers detailed accounting and trapping them with supposed debts.

“There was very little recourse for African-American tenant farmers against this exploitation; instead there was an unwritten law that no African-American could leave until his or her debt was paid off,” writes Megan Ming Francis in Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State. Organizers hoped Bratton’s presence would bring more pressure to bear through the courts. Aware of the dangers – the atmosphere was tense after racially motivated violence in the area – some of the farmers were armed with rifles. To read more go to the link below:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/death-hundreds-elaine-massacre-led-supreme-court-take-major-step-toward-equal-justice-african-americans-180969863/

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