|Will Brown, lynched in Omaha|
Another attempted lynching led to a death toll some estimates place at over 100 in Knoxville on August 30. Although the suspect had been moved to Chattanooga for his safety, the rioters dynamited the jail, taking confiscated whiskey and firearms. Violence spread throughout the city.Two platoons of National Guardsmen arrived quickly but could not restore order until the next day. Dozens of arrests were made of white men who took part but all were acquitted.
|Front Page of Arkansas Gazette|
|369th Infantry Regiment, World War I|
The return of over 350,000 African American troops from World War I was a major factor in the events of the summer. After fighting for their country these men found it difficult to readjust to life in Jim Crow America and their presence increased white repression. Outbreaks in Washington DC, Charleston, and Bisbee, Arizona stemmed from conflicts involving African American sevicemen. Cameron McWhirter's recent book Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America traces this and other causes.
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!