From The 1919 'Red Summer' To Black Lives Matter In 2020: How Has Racial Unrest Shaped America?
Racial unrest is not new in the United States, though in recent months, protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have garnered immense attention in the national spotlight.
Every day since the police killing of George Floyd in May, demonstrators have protested across the country. But pushback against the killing of Black people in this country is not unprecedented, either.
The U.S. has a brutal legacy of inflicting violence on Black bodies. After World War I, a wave of anti-Black riots and violence swept across the country. White mobs attacked Black communities and lynched Black men and women without cause.
In the eight months between April and November of 1919 known as the "Red Summer," three dozen cities participated in the white supremacist rallies and racial riots. It's still unknown exactly how many were killed.
Over time, the perpetrators faced increasing resistance. How did the violence resolve? Was there ever any justice? Did this rash of violence bring about any change?
How does civil unrest and violence in 1919 relate to Black Lives Matter and other racial injustice protests in 2020? In what ways are the two periods of unrest and uprising similar, and how do they differ?
How should the history of America's "Red Summer" be remembered and taught today?
- Cameron McWhirter, writer and staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of "Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America"
- DeNeen Brown, staff writer for The Washington Post, associate professor of journalism at the University of Maryland and contributor to National Geographic
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*This interview was recorded on Monday, August 31.