White sailors ignited violent rioting in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 10, 1919 during what would become known as Red Summer.
Reports from the night pin-point a few events that helped spark the city-wide terror: One group of white sailors ran down a Black man who had not stepped off the sidewalk for them. Another group killed a Black man at a pool hall after a bootlegger reportedly took their cash but did not return with the promised alcohol.
When rumors of these incidents reached the Charleston Navy Yard, hundreds of white sailors flooded into Black Charleston neighborhoods to wreak havoc.
We had trolley cars then, and these sailors got on and started beating every Black [person] they could find. They killed one or two of them. That Sunday night, nobody could go out, you had to stay in.
Yet many Black people did not stay indoors. In fact, many fought back. Some armed themselves.