Jul 27, 2022 - News
Remembering the 1919 race riots
Today is the anniversary of the 1919 race riots, which started when white beachgoers stoned and drowned Black teenager Eugene Williams.
- Williams had drifted over the imaginary line that separated white and Black sections of the beach near 29th Street.
Flashback: Black Chicagoans protested the killing and the police's refusal to arrest the rock throwers. White residents responded by beating Black pedestrians and destroying Black homes and businesses.
- Over the next week, riots in South Side neighborhoods caused 38 deaths and more than 500 injuries.
- Thousands of Black Chicagoans lost their homes. Others were forced out of their neighborhoods and into designated "safety zones" by local authorities.
- Mayor William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson finally quelled the violence by calling in the Illinois reserve militia, although another factor helped end it — rain.
- One of the white gangs that terrorized Black neighborhoods was the Bridgeport-based Hamburg Athletic Club. Its most famous member? A young Richard J. Daley.
Go deeper: The Chicago Public Library put together a collection on the riots, which are still partially blamed for Chicago's ongoing segregation.
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