The 1919 Chicago Race Riot: a Talk by Dr. Eric Allen Hall And Related Libray resources

In the summer of 1919, the South Side of Chicago erupted in racial violence following the death of Eugene Williams, an African-American youth who had mistakenly drifted into the “white” section of Lake Michigan’s 29th Street Beach. By the time the fires were extinguished a week later, thirty-eight people had been killed and thousands more had seen their homes destroyed. It would be the worst of over twenty race riots that plagued the United States during what came to be known as “Red Summer.” Dr. Eric Allen hall Associate Professor of History at Norther Illinois University will examine the causes, events, and legacy of the 1919 Chicago Race Riot through the experiences of those who witnessed the violence.

Find a podcast version of this talk here.

This event was a part of the 20-21 One Book, One College. Find out more here.

Further Resources in the Collection

Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power

by Simon Balto

In this history of Chicago from 1919 to the rise and fall of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s, Simon Balto narrates the evolution of racially repressive policing in black neighborhoods as well as how black citizen-activists challenged that repression. Balto demonstrates that punitive practices by and inadequate protection from the police were central to black Chicagoans’ lives long before the late-century "wars" on crime and drugs. By exploring the deeper origins of this toxic system, Balto reveals how modern mass incarceration, built upon racialized police practices, emerged as a fully formed machine of profoundly antiblack subjugation. --Publisher's Website

Anatomy of Four Race Riots: Racial Conflict in Knoxville, Elaine (Arkansas), Tulsa, and Chicago, 1919-1921

by Lee E. Williams and Lee E. Williams II

Anatomy of Four Race Riots is a study of the terrible racial violence that erupted in four different communities of America during the post World War I years, racial violence that left hundreds dead or injured and a massive amount of destruction in its wake.

Although the igniting incident or event varied somewhat, there was a similarity in the racial climate that existed in each town. The emerging blacks, boosted economically and idealistically by the war effort, were viewed as a threat by some of the whites. The bloody confrontations described here were grave evidence of the intensity of the fear and hatred that existed between a portion of the races. --Publisher's Website

City of scoundrels : the twelve days of disaster that gave birth to modern Chicago

by Gary Krist

When 1919 began, the city of Chicago seemed on the verge of transformation. Modernizers had an audacious, expensive plan to turn the city from a brawling, unglamorous place into “the Metropolis of the World.” But just as the dream seemed within reach, pandemonium broke loose and the city’s highest ambitions were suddenly under attack by the same unbridled energies that had given birth to them...Meticulously researched and expertly paced, City of Scoundrels captures the tumultuous birth of the modern American city, with all of its light and dark aspects in vivid relief. --Publisher's Website

The Chicago Race Riots, July, 1919

by Carl Sandburg

Nearly a century ago, an African American teenager crossed an invisible line of segregation at a Chicago beach and paid with his life. The incident set off days of violence, resulting in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. This contemporary account was written by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Carl Sandburg, who reported on the riots for the Chicago Daily News. --Back cover

Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles

by Janet L. Abu-Lughod

While there are many studies of individual race riots, this is the first book to compare major twentieth century race riots in the three largest American cities in the context of their unique historical, economic, and political characteristics. --Publisher's Website

Chicago Tribune Historical

Access newspaper articles written during and after the 1919 riot through the Chicago Tribune Historical database.

Narrow your search by by date: July 27th, 1919 to August 3rd, 1919.

Need help finding or accessing any of these resources? Ask a Librarian!


Created with an image by Tom Barrett - "This photo is taken from my flight to Panama. We flew directly through a storm, and this is what I captured."