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Saturday, May 2, 2015

On This Day, 1866

American history.

History they don't teach us.

Zinn Education Project's photo.

The Memphis riots of 1866 were the violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political, social and racial tensions following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction.[1] After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black soldiers recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white civilians and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing men, women and children.

Federal troops were sent to quell the violence and peace was restored on the third day. A subsequent report by a joint Congressional Committee detailed the carnage, with blacks suffering most of the injuries and deaths: 46 blacks and 2 whites were killed, 75 blacks injured, over 100 black persons robbed, 5 black women raped, and 91 homes, 4 churches and 8 schools burned in the black community.

Modern estimates place property losses at over $100,000, also suffered mostly by blacks. Many blacks fled the city permanently; by 1870, their population had fallen by one quarter compared to 1865.

Public attention following the riots and reports of the atrocities, together with the New Orleans riot in July, strengthened the case made by Radical Republicans in U.S. Congress. The events influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to grant full citizenship to freedmen, as well as passage of the Reconstruction Act to establish military districts and oversight in certain states.

Investigation of the riot suggested specific causes related to competition for housing, work and social space between Irish immigrants and their descendants, and the freedmen. The white gentry also sought to drive freedpeople out of Memphis and back onto plantations where their labor could be exploited. Through violent terrorism, the white community at large sought to force blacks to respect white supremacy as the time of fully legal slavery was nearing its end.

Note there.

This wasn't the only time or place in American history this took place, either. It was, by no means, an isolated incident. It also took place in New Orleans.  And Tulsa. And Chicago. And I don't know where all. Again, it's history we don't like to teach, we Americans. It's history we don't really want to know. Or acknowledge. Or take responsibility for.

Why, if we took responsibility for all the things Americans have done to blacks in our nation, we couldn't blame them for being poor. And under-educated. And in poor jobs. And poor housing. And for having bad health. And for being in prison. Or for rioting.

Now could we?


Sevesteen said...

Since I'm all guns, all the time:

Black Codes adopted after the Civil War required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms or Bowie knives; these are sufficiently well-known that any reasonably complete history of the Reconstruction period mentions them. These restrictive gun laws played a part in the efforts of the Republicans to get the Fourteenth Amendment ratified, because it was difficult for night riders to generate the correct level of terror in a victim who was returning fire.[28] It does appear, however, that the requirement to treat blacks and whites equally before the law led to the adoption of restrictive firearms laws in the South that were equal in the letter of the law, but unequally enforced. It is clear that the vagrancy statutes adopted at roughly the same time, in 1866, were intended to be used against blacks, even though the language was race-neutral

..."the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied." (Florida Supreme Court Justice Buford)

You should read the linked article, especially the parts about the Deacons for Defense, basically citizens acting as bodyguards for CORE, Martin Luther King and other civil rights activists, when law enforcement refused. Also,No Guns for Negroes

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Detroit, and it wasn't the 19th century.

Black men from Alabama were brought to West Virginia by the coal companies to break the union. To their everlasting credit, these men wouldn't cross the picket line & joined the union. Then Italian immigrants were brought in. Again, these men joined the union. From this time forward, the typical coal town had three neighborhoods: native white, immigrant white & black.

When the miners finally won the right to union, the major concession that John Lewis had to make was allowing mechanization. This resulted in the need for fewer minors, so unsurprisingly, it was the blacks who were let go. Many of them chose to continue north & seek work in the auto industry. When the white workers discovered that the owners were willing to hire big, strong black men they rioted, attacking the black neighborhood.

The real reason for the so called white flight from the cities was the racism of the whites, who were unwilling to accept black co-workers.

Mo Rage said...


White, American racism at its finest.

Lots and lots of guns for Bubba but "keep 'em out of the hands of the Kneegrows."