Notes • What factors led to the Omaha Race Riot of 1919? • Why/how did the riot occur? • Who were the main figures of the riot? • Who participated/was involved? • What actions were taken by the mob? • What did authorities do to try and stop the riot?
Background: The Great Migration (Late 1800s-World War I) • Shift in African American population to the North • Why? • 1860: 93% of African Americans lived in the South • 1930: 80% of African Americans lived in the South • Was the North necessarily better?
Increasing Racial Tensions • Increased African American population in the North led to increased racial tensions • Why? • “Red Summer” of 1919 • Violence erupts in 25 cities (including Omaha) Great Migration article from Omaha Newspaper"Migration Brings Race Problem, this Woman so Asserts," Cleveland advocate, March 6, 1920. Source: LOC, via Nebraska Studies.org
Chicago Race Riot of 1919 • July 1919 • Erupted with the death of a 17 year old African American boy • Lasted several days • 23 blacks and 15 whites killed • 537 people wounded • Hundreds left homeless
Race Relations in Omaha • Arrival of blacks • Stockyards jobs in South Omaha • Filled during wartime • Competed with immigrants • Black men assaulting white women? • Boss Dennison’s role
Overview • http://nebraskastudies.org/0700/stories/0701_0134_01.html
Causes • Agnes Loebeck • Will Brown • Omaha Bee • Sensationalized Press • Competition for Jobs • End of World War I
Omaha Bee Headline "Black Beast First Sticks-up Couple: • The most daring attack on a white woman ever perpetrated in Omaha occurred one block south of Bancroft street near Scenic avenue in Gibson (Omaha neighborhood) last night." -Omaha Bee, September 1919
Omaha World-Herald Headline • "Pretty little Agnes Loebeck ... was assaulted ... by an unidentified negro at twelve O'clock last night, while she was returning to her home in company with Millard [sic] Hoffman, a cripple."
Hanging of Mayor Edward Smith • "If you must hang somebody, then let it be me” -Mayor Smith (after trying to reason with the mob) • Three attempted hangings • Rescue at 16th and Harney St • Saved by four men in a car • "They shall not get him. Mob rule will not prevail in Omaha"
Fire Rages up the Courthouse • "Bring Brown with you and you can come down“ • Situation becomes desperate for police and prisoners (121 of them) • Prisoners attempts to throw Brown off the roof foiled by Deputy Sheriffs • "I am innocent, I never did it, my God I am innocent." -Will Brown • Slips of paper thrown from the building…
The Slips of Paper… • "The judge says he will give up Negro Brown. He is in dungeon. There are 100 white prisoners on the roof. Save them.“ • "Come to the fourth floor of the building and we will hand the negro over to you."
The Lynching of Will Brown • Handed over to the mob • Hung from a telephone post • Body dragged through the streets and burnt
Casualties Omaha World Herald, September 1919
Aftermath • 1600 soldiers deployed in Omaha • 100 people arrested on charges ranging from arson to murder • Assigning blame for the riot • Omaha Bee • Boss Dennison • Police and Mayor Smith • Army for not arriving quickly “. . . the yellow journalism of a certain Omaha newspaper' created the conditions for an outbreak of violence. . . . “It is the belief of many that the entire responsibility for the outrage can be placed at the feet of a few men and one Omaha paper.” -Reverend Charles E. Cobbey
Reaction? • Write on a separate sheet of paper: • What are your reactions to the events that occurred during the Omaha Race Riot of 1919? Do you think an event like this could happen today? Why or why not? How can we learn from history to help insure that another event like this does not occur?
Rodney King and the LA Riots of 1992 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLBEfyyL_vw&feature=related • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdl8ziKU3Jw&feature=related