Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement

Harper Barnes, Author
Harper Barnes, Author . Walker $25.99 (293p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1575-3
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-0-8027-7974-8
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With this account of the East St. Louis, Ill., race riot, “the deadliest of a series of devastating racial battles that swept through American cities in the World War I era,” Barnes (Blue Monday ) chronicles one of the devastating assaults on African- American communities across the nation that culminated in the Red Summer of 1919. Barnes’s account of the 1917 riot is a tale of labor unrest as blacks were used as strikebreakers, of the power of rumor, of corrupt local politics, of the ineffective (when not complicit) response of police power (local and military) and of sickening savagery. Barnes is attentive to the role of the press, citing both the national and black press, but he focuses most sharply upon two St. Louis Post-Dispatch figures, Paul Y. Anderson and Carlos Hurd. Between their dispatches and the “military and congressional hearings in the aftermath of the riot,” Barnes offers a nearly block-by-block, minute-by-minute account, solid in reportage, pedestrian in the telling, useful to students of American and African-American history and accessible to the general reader. (July)

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