Chicago Race Riots

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Chicago was a beacon of hope for African Americans migrating north because of the brutal Jim Crow laws of the south. That was until they realized Chicago, and the north, had its own problems with segregation. The summer of 1919 is commonly referred to as the “Red Summer” because of the deaths from race riots that took place in northern cities across the country. Chicago faced severe consequences because of the outcome of the “Red Summer”. The race riots that occurred near the end of July, 1919 were a turning point in race relations in the city. What was once quietly accepted segregation became open conflict between different races because of the riots. Before 1919 “Chicago had been famous for its remarkably fair attitude toward colored citizens”…show more content…
This proved not to be the case, in fact Monday was the start of the violence with white gangs being the biggest perpetrators of it all. White gangs, such as Englewood’s Ragen’s Colts, drove through neighborhoods in the black belt while shooting guns at African American homes and African American people (Pacyga, 210). White mobs formed on the routes that African American packinghouse workers commuted on to disrupt them, as well as pulled African American people off of streetcars to brutally beat them. White gangs were not the only ones to contribute to the horror, black gangs also attacked white peddlers and businessmen (Pacyga, 210). White policemen were accused of sympathizing with the white mobbers as well as of participating in the race riots in many instances during the five day long riot. One particular instance was at the Angelus House, which was a boarding house for white people in the Black Belt, where 1,500 African Americans were gathered outside. A fight between African Americans claiming there were white snipers in the building above them and the police who claimed there were no arms in the building broke out and ended in police killing several black men (Pacyga, 210). It was thought that many of the offending police officers were involved in the white gangs participating in the riots. The riot violence against…show more content…
The race riots caused “mapped out racial lines, which would endure in place for the next twenty years” (Pacyga, 212). Racial lines that mapped out neighborhoods such as the black belt, directly influenced Chicago race relations by making it easier for the city to discriminate against certain neighborhoods, for example “Almost no housing was built inside the black belt over the course of the decade following the riot of 1919” (Cook County, 1), which caused conditions in the area to worsen both socially and economically. Moreover, the neighborhood system made racially aimed violence easy to commit. In the decades to follow white people continuously attacked African Americans trying to escape the, clearly mapped out, ghetto (Essig, 1). Riots, protests, and racial violence continued throughout the century because of the same problems that appeared in the postwar economy of 1919—“inferior housing, lack of meaningful employment, and inequitable law enforcement” (Essig,

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