Introduction

The front page of the Chicago Defender on August 2, 1919.

Why are Chicago’s race riots of 1919 overlooked in the city’s collective memory? Ask a Chicagoan about the city’s history of race and she or he might talk about the 1968 riots, redlining, housing projects, or the murder of Emmett Till. But you probably wouldn’t hear about the death of Eugene Williams, the African American teenager stoned and drowned by a white man for floating his raft over an invisible line into a whites-only South Side beach in 1919, the event that sparked the most violent week in Chicago history.


The summary provided in these sections is courtesy of Newberry Library’s Chicago 1919 website. To learn more about the 1919 riot with locations of those killed and injured, Dr. John Clegg and others at the University of Chicago, with input from CRR19, created this very useful interactive map. For resources on the broader “Red Summer of 1919,” with some useful visuals and maps of incidents of racial violence from across the US in 1919, visit Visualizing the Red Summer.