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East St. Louis Race Riot: July 17, 1917

Race riots were not uncommon in the decades following the Civil War. Many were inspired by the migration of poor black farm workers from the South to the North looking for work. Northern whites watched them arrive with some alarm, primarily because blacks were a source of cheap labor and threatened to take their jobs. This was, in fact, often realized as white-owned companies exploited the situation. The bloodiest and ugliest of the numerous race riots in many of the cities in the industrial North took place in East St. Louis on July 2, 1917. Historian-journalist Harper Barnes detailed the incident in his book Never Been A Time.

Contributor: Harper Barnes

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