TRS Report: History of Racial Riots & Protest


History of Racial Riots & Protest

With all of the recent protest that was originally sparked by rioting in places like St. Louis and Baltimore due to the amount of police brutality, most do not know the history of protest and rioting in America.

This article shows the history of racial tension and race riots in the country that have been occurring since the early days of America, from race riots to protest for justice.


Race Riots of the late 1800s and early 1900s

During the days of Jim Crow and segregation, African-Americans were forced to live in isolated communities that was designed strictly for black families and separated from the rest of the city.

Some of these communities would later become thriving and successful with black business and African-Americans supporting each other, even more than certain predominantly white areas.

With the success came much jealousy and hatred as many blacks felt the racism and hatred that came from other groups of their city.

Similar to now, with many people having problems with the influx of Mexican immigrants moving into their city, the migration of black families from the South into the Midwest and East Coast frustrated a number of people during the early 1900s.

While today many are in fear that the job opportunities in the country are in danger of being taken away by the immigrant population, during the early 1900s many were angered by the hiring of African-Americans for cheap labor.

Around this time, the Klu Klux Klan and other individuals who were racist had hatred for the black community, while threatening, assaulting and making false accusations against black citizens.
The threats, assaults, and accusations, led to days of rioting where thousands of African-Americans were killed and injured.

Well known events of race riots where mobs of citizens went into the African-American community to cause havoc, include the Tulsa Race Riots, the East St. Louis Riots of 1917, or the Wilmington Race Riots of 1898.

The most known year of racial riots was during the Red Summer of 1919, when people in dozens of cities around the country from places like Chicago and Washington DC to smaller cities like Omaha and Knoxville had encounters with rival groups and local law enforcement.

During these times, most people did not receive any protection from the lynch mobs, which led to thousands of people, African-American and supportive white civilians, to be lynched, killed or physically assaulted.


Rioting of the 1960s

The 1960s was the peak of the Civil Rights era with African-Americans fighting to end segregation and discrimination in America.

The 1960s was a hostile decade as racial tension reached its peak during a time were police brutality and racism led to the deaths and assaults of numerous African-Americans.

With many African-Americans feeling mistreated by society and the Civil Rights movement being at its peak, a number of protest, demonstrations, and riots occurred all over the country.

Between 1963 and 1966, disorders in places like Birmingham, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cleveland, New York City, Philadelphia, and other cities throughout the country led to much violence in a number of communities with at times the National Guard being called to help calm the situation.

An example of how severe the tension was the unrest in the city of Birmingham where a bombing of church killed four young girls, while protesters were fired on with fire hoses and at times firearms.

The years of 1967 and 1968 were the biggest years of riots and protests, which led to hundreds of deaths and millions in property damage as dozens of cities like Detroit, Tampa, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Newark, experience racial riots.

Many cities had multiple confrontations and disturbances throughout the years, but not until the beginning of the 1970s did most of the country’s race riots came to an end following the Martin Luther King assassination riots.


After the 1960s

After the rioting of the 1960s, many white families and middle class African-Americans began to leave their city for neighboring suburbs in fear of continuing rioting and social unrest as many cities populations started to become predominantly black by the 1970s and 1980s.

Also, beginning in the 1970s the amount of black owned businesses declined as rioting in the 1960s affected numerous of commercial properties and caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, the Civil Rights movement died down and the community became less about community pride, especially as drugs and gangs began to enter the neighborhoods.

Into the 2010s, similar problems of poverty, police brutality, and discrimination revamp the movement to fight for justice as people are standing up racism and are protesting for equality.

Read other reports from

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.