n the decade preceding World War I, the marginal gains that blacks made socially, politically and economically after emancipation began to incense white supremacists and led them to launch a new wave of racial violence, aimed at stopping this progress. White mobs began attacking entire black communities, rather than isolated individuals or groups. In these “race riots” — most of which were really massacres — white mobs invaded black neighborhoods, beat and killed large numbers of blacks and destroyed black property. In most instances, blacks fought back and there were many casualties on both sides, but most of the dead were black.
This slideshow features seven of the deadliest of these incidents, drawn from a curriculum developed by the New Haven Teaching Institute at Yale University. You can continue reading about this type of racial violence on their website. A more scholarly source on this subject is The Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. An equally scholarly source that narrates such events in their broader political context is Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow.
Be sure to return Friday for part two of this series, where we’ll examine race riots that blacks initiated. We found one that you may never have heard about, in New Orleans, in 1900. It started when a black man who killed two police officers eluded their manhunt and drew them into a standoff. He shot 23 people, and killed seven of them, including 4 police officers, sparking more than four days of rioting.
1906 Atlanta, Georgia
"One of the South’s most sensational riots occurred in Atlanta, Georgia in September 1906. For months the city had been lashed into a fury of race hatred by a movement to disfranchise Blacks. The Atlanta press had begun to treat Black crime, especially assault and rape, in an inflammatory fashion. Twelve rapes of white women were reported in one week [some sources say this number reported was 4], giving the impression that there was an epidemic of Black rape. This touched off a riot. White mobs, meeting ineffective resistance by city police, murdered Blacks, destroyed and looted their homes and businesses. Blacks attempted to resist, but were outnumbered. Some Blacks were arrested for arming themselves in self-defense. When the four days of rioting ended, ten Blacks and two whites were dead, hundreds were injured, and over a thousand fled the city." -- The Negro Holocaust: Lynching and Race Riots in the United States,1880-1950 by Robert A. Gibson