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1919 - Chicago Race Riot

1919_Chicago Race Riot_min.JPG

Title: 1919 - Chicago Race Riot

About: An outbreak of racially motivated violence in Chicago led to a week of rioting between gangs of blacks and whites, with shootings, beatings and arson attacks leaving 15 whites and 23 blacks dead and more than 500 people injured.

Racial tensions had been simmering in the city, but boiled over with the killing of a 17-year-old African-American boy, Eugene Williams, who while swimming in Lake Michigan had crossed the unofficial barrier between the city’s 'white' and 'black' beaches. A group of white men threw stones at Williams, hitting him, and he drowned.


The police officers who arrived on the scene refused to arrest the white man identified by black eyewitnesses. Angry crowds gathered on the beach, and reports of the incident spread rapidly. Violence soon broke out between mobs of blacks and whites, concentrated in the South Side neighborhood surrounding the stockyards.  After police were unable to subdue the riots, the state militia was called in, and eventually restored order. However, many black families were left homeless after rioters had torched their residences.


The Chicago Commission on Race Relations - composed of six white men and six black - was set up to investigate the causes.  It noted that competition for jobs, inadequate housing options for blacks, inconsistent law enforcement and pervasive racial discrimination had sparked the riots.  But in the years to come improvement in these areas would be hard to notice.

The riots did however draw attention to the increasing tensions in America’s urban centers, and showed that African Americans were willing to fight for their rights in the face of oppression and injustice.

Decade: 1910s

Year: 1919

Region: North America

Country: USA

Society: Race Relations

Society: Crime

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 2

Artist: Stefan Milosavljevic


Group: Genesis

Number: 19/100

Price: 0.2 ETH


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