Week of July 26-August 1
1847—President Joseph J. Roberts declares the West African nation of Liberia an independent republic. The nation was primarily founded by former U.S. slaves returning to Africa. Roberts, himself, was born in Virginia. Three factors were behind the founding of Liberia beginning around 1821. Free Blacks were coming under increasing discrimination in America; pro-slavery forces felt the presence of free Blacks would encourage rebellion within the slave population; and friendly Whites (like those in the American Colonization Society—ACS) felt Blacks would never be treated fairly in America and should return to Africa. The ACS helped over 13,000 Blacks return to Africa with most going to Liberia.
1926—The NAACP awards its prestigious Spingarn Medal to Carter G. Woodson for his work in Black History. Indeed, Woodson became known as the “Father of Black History.” The historian, author and journalist founded Negro History Week—the precursor to today’s Black History Month. Woodson felt knowing true Black history would be an inspiration to people of African ancestry. He once wrote: “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.”
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.