No one really knows about this...I know about it because my father, uncles and aunts lived through it,” Dhati Kennedy says.
He’s referring to an incident that survivors call the East St. Louis Race War. From July 1 through July 3, 1917, a small Illinois city located across the river from its Missouri counterpart was overrun with violence. Kennedy’s father Samuel, who was born in 1910, lived in East St. Louis when the conflict occurred.
A smoldering labor dispute turned deadly as rampaging whites began brutally beating and killing African-Americans. By the end of the three-day crisis, the official death toll was 39 black individuals and nine whites, but many believe that more than 100 African-Americans were killed.
“We spent a lifetime as children hearing these stories. It was clear to me my father was suffering from some form of what they call PTSD,”
Although the official death toll was 48 — 39 blacks and 9 whites — historians believe more than 100 people died and hundreds were injured, including women and children.
An estimated 7,000 African-Americans fled the city and found refuge in St. Louis and surrounding communities. The St. Louis Urban League formed to address racial issues and to provide relief for African-Americans left homeless by the rioting.
The riot was one of the deadliest in U.S. history — and shocking because of the viciousness of the mob...
Kennedy recalls:read more, hear more:
“He witnessed horrible things: people’s houses being set ablaze, . . . people being shot when they tried to flee, some trying to swim to the other side of the Mississippi while being shot at by white mobs with rifles, others being dragged out of street cars and beaten and hanged from street lamps.”
|BLACK RESPONSE: SILENT PARADE|
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