American Pogrom: The East St. Louis Race Riot and Black by Charles Lumpkins

By Charles Lumpkins

On July 2 and three, 1917, race riots rocked the small business urban of East St. Louis, Illinois. American Pogrom takes the reader past that pivotal time within the city’s background to discover black people’s activism from the antebellum period to the eve of the post–World battle II civil rights movement.

Charles Lumpkins exhibits that black citizens of East St. Louis had engaged in formal politics because the 1870s, exerting impact in the course of the poll and during patronage in a urban ruled by means of robust actual property pursuits whilst many African american citizens in other places skilled setbacks in workout their political and financial rights.

While Lumpkins asserts that the race riots have been a pogrom—an prepared bloodbath of a selected ethnic group—orchestrated by way of definite businessmen motive on fighting black citizens from achieving political strength and on turning town right into a “sundown” city completely cleared of African american citizens, he additionally demonstrates how the African American neighborhood survived. He situates the actions of the black electorate of East St. Louis within the context of the bigger tale of the African American quest for freedom, citizenship, and equality.

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1-108 6/13/08 4:35 PM Page 23 on rail connections to populous, industrializing cities in the Northeast. Second, some eastern financiers, worrying that national politics over slavery made the business climate in the s in St. Louis uncertain, moved their investments from St. Louis to Chicago. Finally, by , St. Louis’s leaders, favoring river over rail transport, saw plans to build their city’s economy collapse when the southern states seceded, severing shipping lines on the Mississippi River.

6 Illinois abolished slavery in , but black people in the state experienced a precarious freedom. First, abolition brought not an abrupt end to slavery but a gradual emancipation for adult slaves and freedom for children born to enslaved parents after emancipation. Free black people and manumitted or fugitive slaves disapproved of legislative enactments banning black people from migrating to Illinois. They also knew that freedom was not guaranteed as long as the United States protected slavery, denied citizenship to free African Americans, and required white citizens to return fugitives to their masters.

By , East St. Louis and its environs hosted a major stockyard, several meatpacking plants, glass works, food processing plants, a lead smelter, iron foundries, steel mills, breweries, lumberyards, roofing and other building material companies, cement-making firms, and paint factories, among numerous others. 26 Many of the companies recruited to the East St. ” Such firms processed raw materials into components that other companies then converted into products. ” Intermediaries lacked control over the prices of either the raw materials or the finished products and operated on narrow profit margins.

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