Cameron McWhirter

Is 2016 our Red Summer?

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In the summer of 1919, race riots, lynching and other violence swept the U.S. from big cities like Chicago and Washington to small towns like Longview, Tex. and Ellisville, Miss. It was so terrifying and bloody that NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson called it the “Red Summer.”
Herbert Seligmann, a white Jewish New Yorker, worked for the NAACP at that time. Part of his job was investigating outbreaks of violence. It was dangerous work and he saw horrible things. When the chaos subsided, he wrote that the summer had been shameful for the country, but the violence had “accomplished anxious heart-searchings that were long overdue.” He wrote that the chaos showed the United States, in stark terms, “that a national problem, long unsolved, demanded serious attention.”G1595-02


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