American Pogrom: The East St. Louis Race Riot and Black Politics

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Overview

On July 2 and 3, 1917, race riots rocked the small industrial city of East St. Louis, Illinois. American Pogrom takes the reader beyond that pivotal time in the city's history to explore black people's activism from the antebellum era to the eve of the post-World War II civil rights movement.

Charles L. Lumpkins shows that black residents of East St. Louis had engaged in formal politics since the 1870s, exerting influence through the ballot and through patronage in a city dominated by powerful real estate interests even as many African Americans elsewhere experienced setbacks in exercising their political and economic rights.

While Lumpkins asserts that the race riots were a pogrom-an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group-orchestrated by certain businessmen intent on preventing black residents from attaining political power and on turning the city into a "sundown" town permanently cleared of African Americans, he also demonstrates how the African American community survived. He situates the activities of the black citizens of East St. Louis in the context of the larger story of the African American quest for freedom, citizenship, and equality.

About the Author:
Charles L. Lumpkins teaches history and African American studies at the Pennsylvania State University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Lumpkins reveals the engagement of political and economic insiders in shaping both the violence and its aftermath, and in so doing he presents a model for understanding racial violence that both highlights black political activism and reminds us of the costs that maintaining white supremacy imposed on the black community and the nation.”

The Journal of American History

“Charles Lumpkins provides an important reinterpretation of the 1917 East St. Louis Race Riot. In American Pogrom, he challenges Elliott Rudwick’s classic Civil Rights-era account, Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917 (1964).… Reflecting a generational paradigm shift in historical scholarship, Lumpkins respectfully repudiates Rudwick’s interpretation.”

Journal of Illinois History

“In expanding on the sources of Rudwick and McLaughlin, Lumpkin instead emphasizes black political activity and community-building that—given the voting potential of oncoming black migrants—threatened white powerbrokers, who promoted racial fear and violence.”

American Studies Journal

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Charles Lumpkins teaches history and African American studies at the Pennsylvania State University.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

Introduction 1

1 Historical Roots of an African American Community, 1800-1898 11

2 The African American Political Experience, 1898-1915 44

3 The May Uprising: An End to Expanding Black Power 74

4 The July Massacre: "We'll Have a White Man's Town" 109

5 Return to the Political Arena, 1917-1929 143

6 Breaking the Deadlock, 1930-1945 174

Postscript 204

Notes 207

Bibliography 279

Index 299

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