One hundred years ago, Americans were adjusting to life after a destabilizing world war. The Spanish influenza decimated communities, fears of Bolshevik-style communism ran rampant and hundreds of thousands of returning veterans were competing for jobs and housing — including African Americans confident that fighting abroad earned them the right to freedom at home.
Throughout the summer of 1919, the war between nations gave way to a war between races. Mobs targeted and lynched black Americans.
Racist riots erupted in Houston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., as well as in rural towns and cities across the country. Hundreds of people were killed. Civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson dubbed this era "The Red Summer" — something not taught in a lot of classrooms.
It is part of the curriculum for Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. The high school history teacher covered the Red Summer of 1919 for Teen Vogue's "OG History" series and joined On Second Thought on the line from Portland.
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