On this day: in history (1919), the Chicago race riot started. The riot was a violent racial conflict started by white Americans against black Americans. It began with the death of Eugene Williams, a young African American who had been swimming in Lake Michigan and had drifted into an area tacitly reserved for whites; he was stoned and was shortly drowned.
When police refused to arrest the white man whom black observers held responsible for the incident, indignant crowds began to gather on the beach, and the disturbance began. Distorted rumours swept the city as sporadic fighting broke out between gangs and mobs of both races. Violence escalated with each incident, and for days Chicago was without law and order.
During the riot, thirty-eight people died (23 black and 15 white). Over the week, injuries attributed to the episodic confrontations stood at 537, with two-thirds of the injured being black and one-third white, while the approximately 1,000 to 2,000 who lost their homes were mostly black.
This incident released years of accumulated racial tensions, starting from a constricting job market and the efforts by Chicago African Americans to secure adequate housing by moving into previously all-white neighborhoods as thousands of African Americans began arriving in the city during World War I as part of what would be called the Great Migration.
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Created by Okey Obiabunmo