Massacres in U.S. History

Here is a list of some of the countless massacres in the history of the United States. Most of these massacres were designed to suppress voting rights, land ownership, economic advancement, education, freedom of the press, religion, LGBTQ rights, and/or labor rights of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and immigrants. While often referred to as “race riots,” they were massacres to maintain white supremacy. One of the best explanations about why it is important for students to learn this history is included in the article (and related lesson) by Linda Christensen, Burning Tulsa: The Legacy of Black Dispossession. A tweet thread by historian Stephen West shows how politicians fueled hate crimes during the Reconstruction era, with parallels today. Ursula Wolfe-Rocca writes about Red Summer of 1919, Remembering Red Summer — Which Textbooks Seem Eager to Forget. We also offer a list of massacres that includes these same events and massacres in other countries. While this list includes dozens of entries, it is by no means complete.

Feb. 8, 1968: Orangeburg Massacre

Two years before the Kent State murders, 28 students were injured and three were killed in Orangeburg, South Carolina — most shot in the back by the state police while involved in a peaceful protest.
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Elaine Massacre Defendants | Zinn Education Project

Sept. 30, 1919: Elaine Massacre

Black farmers were massacred in Elaine, Arkansas for their efforts to fight for better pay and higher cotton prices. A white mob shot at them, and the farmers returned fire in self-defense. Estimates range from 100-800 killed, and 67 survivors were indicted for inciting violence.
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Riot Sweeps Chicago | Zinn Education Project

July 27, 1919: Red Summer in Chicago

Sparked by a white police officer’s refusal to make an arrest in the murder of a Black teenager, violence in Chicago lasted almost a week. At least 38 people were killed and thousands of Black homes were looted and damaged during Red Summer.
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