As we are now in these final moments of the U.S. election and await the highly anticipated presidential results- I’ve been in conflict with myself on how I want to use my voice at this time.
Regardless of how the results of the election go, all of me is concerned deeply on the immediate safety of Black people in this country. We have been living in a constant state racially fueled violence with an alarming uptick since May of this year . We have been demanding justice for the lives stolen from us by the police state while guard ourselves against white people empowered by 45’s calls to them to stand back and stand by .
In the wake of all this , I took a step back and spent needed time with Ancestors. They know better than the living the histories kept from us. They have the vision now on how to preserve us alive in this moment, guiding us onto liberation.
America’s dark racist history is often left muddled because of the lack of accurate teaching of it in our educational system. United States of America likes to hide the ugliest parts of its history with inadequate one sided record keeping or lying to cover up the truly heinous crimes that have happened. We can see this especially during the Reconstruction Era and the time shortly after. Former confederates resented the freedom of Black people and white supremacy reached new heights as poor whites now had to compete for jobs in the same economy as Black people. In fact, the extreme racist fueled violence of the Reconstruction Era ushered in The Great Migration, one of the largest migrations of a people’s to be recorded on this land . And yet that migration didn’t save Black people from racism that had been embedded in the illegitimate creation of this nation. The first documented race riot turned Massacre occurred in New York in 1863.
I was able to research and compile for y’all 24 histories of Black Massacres that happened in America. I am sure there are more instances that I missed , and once I come across I will add to this list . My goal was to provide other Black people out there with some truth about our history that was kept from us. I wanted to honor the Ancestors that deaths were never recognized and names left unknown. I recounted briefly the stories surrounding these massacres and included reference articles after each for people who would like a deeper dive into these histories.
1. New York City | July 13, 1863
The first ever Draft had been established for the civil war and had finally reached New York by the year 1863. The wealthy whites were able to pay the fine for avoiding being drafted into war , but the large Irish population (mostly poor) were unable to . They also were now competing with newly free Black people for employment.
On the evening of July 13th, 1863 when a crew of disgruntled Irish firefighters known for their volatile temperament set their own fire engine on fire a mob formed . These firefighters led the angry mob to destroying the properties of businesses known to employ Black people, the homes of abolitionists, and set the mental hospital for children of color on fire . It is estimated that over 660 people were killed after the three days of riots . Of those only 120 death were recorded, 109 were Black people. The New York City Daft Riot goes on to be one of the Bloodiest unknown massacres that happened in the north .
2. Memphis, Tennessee |May 1-3, 1866
The Reconstruction Political climate of Memphis was similar to New York City, yet different. Memphis was captured by the Union in 1862 and became a haven of sorts for free Black people to migrate to . By 1866 poor Irish men and people who were formerly confederate, had the same feelings as the whites people in New York and acted upon them .
“When the rumor of the black-on-white crime spread, Fort Pickering’s commander, General George Stoneman, confiscated black soldiers’ weapons and ordered them to their barracks. That left a nearby black neighborhood and an African American refugee camp unguarded”. Left unguarded a racists mob led by local police and firefighters went into the Black Camps and Black neighborhoods rampaging killing men, women and children. All crimes we’re committed for the next three days , from theft to rape and murder . there is no definitive number on the amount of deaths from this massacre although their are estimations , multiple homes and buildings were destroyed. No arrests or criminal action was taken against those who participated in the three day Massacre.
3. New Orleans | July 30, 1866
New Orleans Massacre happened just two months after the Memphis Massacre. New Orleans Mayor was a former Confederate sympathizer and was fiercely opposed to Reconstruction Era . Tensions between the Mayor and Radical Republicans came to a head when the Radical Republicans held a convention for their delegates in New Orleans on July 27 1866. Upon learning that the convention would resume again , New Orleans Sheriff- who was also an Ex- Confederate General, began deputizing former Confederates and other racist in preparation to disrupt when the convention resumed. On July 30th , 1866 twenty- five delegates along with 200 Black freemen marched in a parade to the convention hall , along the way they were harassed and fights began to break out . When the Sheriff and his mob made their way to the convention hall they began firing into the crowd of Black men . 34 people were killed and 119 wounded. Over 200 arrests were made .
4. St. Bernard Parish , Louisiana |October 25, 1868
On October 25, 1868 at a rally for a Presidential Democratic nominee, Horatio Seymour, the violence began . A Black man was observing the rally passing by when white participants got bold. They approached the man and got in his face trying to encourage him to shout for Seymour. When the Black man refused , the white participants attempted to stab him and failed . The Black Man then reached for his pistol and began firing as he feld the scene , he was shot in the head . A week of racial fueled violence ensured once news spread, a group of Black people killed one white man. On the other hand the white mob broke into Black people’s homes killing whole families, executing Black people on the street and stealing items like voting registration from Black people’s homes . The white mob killed those who tried to stop them including an police officer . The Exact number of fatalities is unclear , no arrests were made other than over 100 Black men for the death of the one white man .
5. Camilla, Georgia | September 19, 1868
On September 19, 1868 “The Original 33”, the first 33 elected Black Legislators in the Georgia State Assembly, held a march and rally after being unjustly expelled from the Assembly by racists Democrats. The march began in Albany , Georgia and planned to end in the town square of Camilla. The march grew to about 300 armed men, Black and white by the time they reached Camilla. Camilla’s Sheriff threatened the protesters with violence if they did not disarm themselves, which they did not . In response the Sheriff deputized whites who had gathered in Camilla ahead of the rally, sent them into storefronts and when the March was going through the town the new sheriff deputies began firing at them from all directions. In the weeks that followed white people went into the outskirts of Georgia hunting down Black people , beating them up and threatening them about voting in the next election . 15 were killed , 40 wounded- no arrests made .
6.Opelousas, Louisiana| September 28, 1868
A crew of white supremacist that called themselves Seymour’s Knights , named after the Presidential Democratic nominee sparked things this time . A white Republican writer and teacher from Ohio wrote a scalding article in the local paper about the violence incited by the Democratic Party . In response to this article Seymour Knights beat him so terribly that he fled the town and was on the run for three weeks. The Black Republicans after hearing this and not being able to confirm if their comrade was alive , took up arms in retaliation. The Seymour Knights and allies outnumbered and out gunned the Black freemen . What was shaped to be a war turned into a bloodied massacre . Black Republican leaders that surrendered were executed publicly , others were captured to be killed later. An estimated 150 people were killed , actually number unknown. No arrests made.
7. Colfax, Louisiana | April 13, 1873
An all Black Militia took control over the Colfax courthouse after the split ballot result in the Louisiana governors race in fear that the white supremacist would try to overtake the election. 150 KKK member and other white domestic terrorist showed up outside the occupied courthouse with a cannon . And fired the cannon into the courthouse. The Black Militia stood their ground until they ran out of ammunition. When they surrendered they were shot and hanged. The exact amount of deaths is unknown , it’s estimated between 60 to 150 deaths . 97 arrests were made of the white supremacist, only 9 were charged with crimes .
8. Eufaula, Alabama | November 3, 1874
It was an Election Day on November 3, 1874 . An argument broke out at the polls between a Black Republican and white Democrat over an underaged Black voter. The white man stabbed the Black man in the shoulder resulting in other white democrats in the area to take arms, which they had stashed in strategic spaces around the polling station. Black people retreated , as they were encouraged by Black leaders not to come with weapons out to not instigate any violence. white men mostly did the shooting , killing approximately 8 people and about 80 were injured . Only a dozen of those were whites people . After the polls closed, an armed mob led by a democratic official broke into the polling place. They fired at the judge and his son who had vow to stay until morning to protect the ballots , ultimately killing the son. The mob stole the ballot box and over 700 ballots from the Black area of the district and burned them. No arrests were made.
9. Vicksburg, Mississippi | December 7, 1874
Peter Crosby, a formerly enslaved person and a Union Army veteran, was elected as the Vicksburg Sheriff. After calls for his resignation began he reached out to the Republican governor and Black community . The governor sent an letter urging the white supremacist groups to stand down , which they ignored . The Black community however, mass mobilized and hundreds marched in solidarity with Crosby on December 7, 1874 . They were met by white liners , a local group of white supremacist when they marched into Vicksburg. The whites began firing first and ultimately ran off the surviving Black people . For 10 days the white liners joined by other white supremacist from Louisiana hunted down, killed and terrorized Black people in and around Vicksburg. Peter Crosby was captured and forced to resign. It is estimated that anywhere from 70 to 300 deaths happened during this massacre. No arrests were made.
10. Clinton, Mississippi |September 2, 1875
The Republican Party in Mississippi planned a series on rallies to encourage voting in the upcoming election that year in November. About 1,500 people were in attendance at the rally held at Clinton on September 2, 1875- of those 75 were white liners . To ease tensions, the Republican Party suggested a debate between the two parties . When the Republican representative went to counter the democratic, they were met with booing and heckling from white liners . A Black State senator made an urgent plea for peace then violence broke out . The white liners began shooting, killing 5 Black people and two whites . The mayor of Clinton made a call for assistance after hearing a rumor of retaliation, bringing in hundreds of white liners into town . They spent the next days searching for and shooting down Black people . On September 13, 1875 the president of USA adopted a policy of nonintervention in Mississippi in response to the pleas for federal assistance . It’s is estimated that 30 to 50 Black people were killed , actual numbers cannot be confirmed . No arrests were made.
11. Thibodaux, Louisiana | November 23, 1887
10,000 Black sugar cane cutters all went on strike during the harvest season of 1887 in an effort to unionize for better pay and fair treatment. Sugar cane growers fired unionized cutters and denying them their demands sparking the strike . The strike went on for three weeks effecting four plantations, thus being one of the largest farming strikes in American history. The planters were able to influence the governor to unleash all white state militias into Thibodaux were they essentially went door to door killing suspected unionists and strikers , stopping and killing people on the streets resulting in many running to hide in the swaps and others areas. It was estimated 60 people were killed . No arrests were made.
12. Wilmington, North Carolina | November 10, 1889
On November 10th, 1889 a mob of white people engaged in the first successful coup d’Etat on a local government level in America. The mob burned down The Daily Record, the only black owned newspaper, destroying hundreds of stories and records of the Black community in the city before they began their killing spree. By the evening the two newly elected officials were thrown out of office and replaced with white supremacists . It is estimated that 40 people were killed . Immediate Historical records of the domestic terrorists that executed this coup were held up as heroes , which makes this massacre especially difficult to determine credibility around.
13. Atlanta, Georgia | September 22- 24, 1906
On September 22, 1906 multiple rumors of Black on white violence spread throughout Atlanta through false reports in various newspapers. By sundown a mob of white supremacists gathered in downtown Atlanta. They began destroying the properties owned by Black people and that employed Black people , they attacked Black people they found on the street beating them to death. The mob went into Black neighborhoods but retreated after 2 am when a huge rain storm began to pour from the sky . The next day federal militia were dispatched to curb the growing violence, while Black people secretly armed themselves in preparation for another day of violence. Over 250 Black men armed themselves and met in secret in Brownsville to discuss how to protect the community, when the state police heard of this meeting they gather all the militia groups to gather outside of the secret meeting place . A shootout happened where one officer was killed. The Black people were disarmed and the next few days white supremacist were able to make their way into some Black neighborhoods despite the police presence. Atlanta’s Black community suffered greatly after many businesses were destroyed, burned and rob propelling them into an economic depression. 25 to 40 deaths were estimated. No arrests were made or any acknowledgement from the city of this massacre.
14. Springfield, Illinois | August 15, 1908
This massacre like the previous was started by a rumor of Black on white violence, this time two Black men were accused of harming two white women . The Springfield police quickly arrested two Black men and moved them to an undisclosed location before the mob of white people arrived . Upon arrival the mob demanded the men be handed over and lynched for the rumors that spread earlier that day . And when the police informed the mob that they would not do so and that the men had been moved , the mob grew even more enraged causing them to catch the first Black men they came across and lynch them . These two killings did not satisfy the mob, they continued into Springfield destroying and looting Black owned businesses and businesses that patronized only . The mob also spread their violence to surrounding Black community near Springfield. Black people that attempted to defend themselves were shot at. Many Black people fled the city. Six Black people were shot and killed in addition to the first two men that were hanged. 150 white domestic terrorists were arrested, the whites who were not intimidated and threatened people out of testifying.
15. Slocum, Texas | July 29, 1910
Slocum, Texas was a maroon community , a town occupied by mostly Black people with Black owned businesses . Tension from whites living in surrounding areas that did not approve of the Black township came to a head on July 29, 1910 . Groups of mobs moved around the county hunting Black people . The mob chased Black residents out of town and killed them as they tried to escape through the woods . Exact numbers of death are unknown , it is estimated 8 to 22 based off of reports yet the actual number is thought to be significantly higher according to the special Sheriff’s findings in the aftermath . No arrests were made , in fact efforts were used to cover up and keep this massacre a secret.
16. East St. Louis, Illinois | July 1, 1917
On July 1st, 1917 Black people providing protection in East St. Louis accidental killed two plain clothes police officers. They mistaken a car’s model that had been doing “white drive-by” in a continuous attack on their community , and shot the motorist immediately . Over the next three days white supremacists terrorized the Black community in retaliation. The mobs of white people beat, shot and lynched men, women and children . They set houses and businesses on fire . It was recorded that 39 people were killed, yet it is believed that the actual number of deaths was more than 100 and the amount of damages was in the thousands.
17. Washington, D.C. |July 19, 1919
On the evening of July 19, 1919 a mob of angry whites swarmed Washington’s streets after allegations of a Black man harming a white woman . The man and his wife were attacked and beat on the street , they ran home . When the mob arrived to the couple’s house their neighbors and friends were outside armed ready to protect. What occurred over the next four days was white violence and Black people defending themselves. The federal government dispatched the military on the fourth day . The massacre became apart of a time period know as “The Red Summer” , 4 to 38 were recorded to be killed and 100 injured .
18. Elaine, Arkansas |September 30, 1919
This is among the worst massacres of Black people in this country. On the evening of September 30, 1919 at 9pm Black Cotton sharecroppers held a meeting in their church discussing whether to Unionize, what lawyers to work with and other maters . At 11pm a white mob formed outside the church and began shooting in, they shot back killing one white man. News of the white man spread through the night across the river and by morning the story morphed into that Black people in Elaine had formed and were acting out an insurgence . October 1st : over 1,000 whites supremacists swarmed from all across the state and from Mississippi in retaliation and began the massacre. October 2: The Governor and veteran of Arkansas, Col. Issac Jencks, along with a machine gun battalion and 583 soldiers arrived to Elaine . Them along with the white supremacists that arrived a day prior terrorized the town for five day burning whole plantations and homes with families inside, killing , and capturing every Black person within 200 mile radius of Elaine. 122 Black men and women were arrested and found guilty of all types of false crimes , 12 Black men were hanged for the deaths of trigger happy white men that accidentally killed each other . The histories went on to tell the false story that the insurgence was forming that warranted this violence. The number of deaths cannot be accurately known due to local officials lack of records of the events , 25 to 853 are estimated to have been killed in this massacre ending the Red Summer .
19. Ocoee , Florida | November 2, 1920
On November 1, 1920 Black residents in Ocoee went to their polling station to exercise their right to vote. They came despite the threats of Klans men who rode through neighborhoods threatening violence if they showed up the next morning. Each Black person was turned away after being threatened by the same Klansmen that now were camped outside their polling places and/ or the poll workers not being able to find any of their names on the voter registration rolls . One Black man who was turned away went to Orlando to seek counsel with a judge on the matter . The judge instructed the man on how to exercise his rights and how to file a lawsuit against their county. When he returned, he organized with other Black voters that were turned away and they all went back to the polls . They demanded that be let to vote and the Klan response was kill those 50 Black people in one night, one of them being July Perry The Godfather of the Black Ocoee community.
20. Tulsa, Oklahoma | May 31,1921
On May 30, 1921 a young Black man was accused of assaulting a white woman in downtown Tulsa and was quickly arrested. A local newspaper reported that he raped her and lynching was going to happen that night , in response to that article armed mobs of Black and white men surrounded the Tulsa courthouse. The armed Black men stayed at the courthouse to protect the young man inside from any harm while the white mob instigated violence, by night fall they got what they wanted . An argument turned shoot out broke out between a Black man and a white man , leaving the white man dead . The white mob began their counterattack on the Black people assembled there and continue into the Greenwood district, a well know affluent Black neighborhood also known as Black Wall Street. The white mob grew to include heavily armed veterans . They terrorized the Black community for two days killing anywhere from 30 to 300 people. The mob burned multiple homes, looted properties and injuring hundreds more with bombs they dropped from airplanes. There was thousands of dollars of damage and many Blsck people left displaced after the violence ended. The Tulsa Massacre is one the most known of Black Massacres despite it being left out of the taught histories in this country.
21. Rosewood, Florida | January 1, 1923
Rosewood was a small predominantly Black township in Florida. A four day massacre began on January 1st , 1923 after a white woman from a neighboring town accused a Black man of rape . Many Black people escaped within the first two days through the swamps. Some were able to catch a train out of Florida, while others were hidden by allies in surrounding communities and cities. By January 6th, 1923 seeing that no Black people were left in Rosewood the mob of over 200 white men retreated leaving a single home and business standing after the massacre. They had destroyed the town of Rosewood. Six deaths were documented although it is believed to be far more . No arrest or charges were made, yet in 1994 Florida gave $150,000.00 to the nine survivors of the Rosewood massacre.
22. Detroit, Michigan | June 20, 1943
The Detroit Massacre started as a race riot after rumors of Black on white violence spread across the hard color line of Woodward Avenue. Both the Black and white communities began to retaliate which prompted the immediate response of the Detroit police to the east side, where the Black people lived . That evening the massacre began as police officers beat Black residents, shot up and looted their homes , and killed them in the streets . On the other side of Woodward Avenue, white vigilantes gathered into a mob beating any Black person walking along that color line. They stopped the cars of Black drivers coming down the street, dragged them out and flipped their cars over . The mayor and Governor instituted martial law the next day, and a military to disperse the white mob without any gunfire. The police retreated from the east side after arresting several Black people. Of the 25 Black people killed in this massacre, 18 of them were shot by the police . Hundreds were injured and thousands of dollars of damage happened to the properties in Detroit.
23. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | May 13, 1985
MOVE, a Black Liberation collective that lived communal in west Philadelphia were deemed a terrorist organization by the city’s mayor and police commissioner. On May 13, 1985 police came to issue warrant for the arrest of five MOVE members when the violence began . MOVE member defended their home-base shooting at the five hundred police officers that had surrounded the front and back of their headquarters. The officers discharged over 10,000 rounds of ammunition for 90 minutes. The mayor approved the police commissioner command to bomb the MOVE house . Once the bomb was dropped firefighters were told not to put it out but to let it burn – resulting in 60 other row houses catching flames and burning. Police waited in the back alley to catch any MOVE members trying to escape the fires. The only MOVE members to survive were one woman and one child . 11 people were killed, 5 of which were children. The mayor or police commissioner were never charged for bombing the home of MOVE and allowing a neighborhood go up in flames .
24. Charleston, South Carolina | June 17, 2015
On the evening June 17, 2015 a congregation of Black people were gathered having bible study at AME Church in Charleston when a white man appeared at the church doors . The people inside welcomed him in, unaware that he was an armed white supremacist. Once inside the white man shot and killed 9 Black people . He fled the scene but was later caught and charged for his crimes .
The Red Summer | April – November 1919
Durning the period known as the Red Summer, an estimated 24 “race riots” turned into white led mob violence occurred all across the country. Ending with the massacre at Elaine, Arkansas.