For the Week of July 27-August 2
1919—The infamous Chicago Race Riot of 1919 begins. It would last for several days and require 6,000 National Guardsmen to put it down. The Chicago disturbance was the bloodiest of 25 race riots which took place in cities throughout the country. In fact, the summer of 1919 became known as the “Red Summer” because of the wide spread number of racial conflicts. In Chicago, the rioting was started by White gangs harassing the large number of Blacks who had moved to the city for wartime jobs created by World War I. In addition to harassing and beating Blacks, the White gangs invented “drive-by shooting” as they drove through Black neighborhoods firing rifles and pistols. Young Blacks formed mobs of their own and began retaliating. When it was all over 15 Whites and 23 Blacks were dead; more than 500 people had been injured and another 1,000 left homeless.
1868—The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified formally making former Black slaves citizens of the United States. Many scholars consider this the most important amendment to the Constitution. In addition to making Blacks citizens, it contains both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause. These clauses have been used to guarantee a wide range of rights for all U.S. citizens. The 14th Amendment was passed, in part, to overturn the “Black Codes” being adopted in many Southern states after the Civil War. The Black Codes were an attempt to give Blacks official second class status in America by, among other things, limiting their rights to vote, sue a White person or testify in court.
1915—United States Marines begin the first American occupation of Haiti. The official justification was that disturbances on the predominantly Black island might allow Germany’s Adolph Hitler to infiltrate troops into the Americas. But the U.S. invasion was driven in large measure by a desire to put down a popular rebellion which threatened the rule of Haiti’s dictator and American business interests. Over 2,000 Haitians were killed in the early weeks of the occupation which did not end until August of 1934.