Five deadly race riots in America that destroyed successful and thriving black communities and businesses

Mohammed Awal October 25, 2019

East St. Louis Riots of 1917

Newspapers carried the accounts of the three days long riots in East Saint Louis, Illinois | Blavity

In 1917, white workers of the Aluminum Ore Company in East St. Louis went on a massive strike. This prompted the management of the company to employ some 470 African-Americans.

That resulted in one of the deadliest race riots in the 20th century.

The violence erupted on May 28th, 1917, shortly after a city council meeting was called, according to historical accounts. 

The striking white workers complained about the black migrants to the East St. Louis Mayor and after the meeting had ended news went around of attempted robbery of a white man by an armed black man.

White mobs formed as a result of the news and rampaged the city’s downtown attacking any African American, they found. It was reported that the also mobs stopped trolleys and streetcars, pulling black passengers out and beating them on the streets and sidewalks.

Frank O. Lowden, who was Illinois Governor at that time called in the National Guard to quell the violence, and the mobs slowly dispersed. But the violence resumed on July 2, 1917, leading to the slaughtering of at least 100 African-Americans (some sources put the figure at nearly 200) with over 6,000 others left homeless. By comparison, eight whites died.


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