We’v Seen That Mob Before…

Ed. Note:   When the  violent mob descended on the White House last Wednesday, the sight shocked  the nation and the world. For African  Americans it was especially  amazing to watch – yet hauntingly familiar;  jarring  our collective psyche  as victims, historically,  of thousands of lynchings and of deadly race riots that went unchecked for decades – even aided and abetted in many cases – by the law.

We’ve seen  the angry, hateful faces of that mob before…in Tulsa…..at Rosewood…in the burning of the Black orphanage in New York City… at the picnic lynchings…in the massacre in Atlanta …Ocoee, Florida…and countless other places unknown and known.

Here are just a few, of the  countless examples.

 •The Wilmington Massacre of 1898  was a mass riot and insurrection carried out by White supremacists in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 10, 1898;  the violent overthrow of a duly elected government. They expelled opposition political leaders from the city, destroyed the property and businesses of Black citizens built up since the Civil War, including the only Black newspaper in the city, and killed an estimated 60 to more than 300 people. What happened in Wilmington became an affirmation of white supremacy. 

•The Atlanta Massacre of 1906 was an attack by armed mobs of Whites against African Americans in Atlanta, Georgia which began the evening of September 22. Upwards of 100 Blacks  were killed during the riots, some were hanged from lamposts; others were shot, beaten or stabbed to death. They were pulled from street cars and attacked on the street; White mobs invaded Black neighborhoods, destroying homes and businesses.An underlying cause was the growing racial tension in a rapidly-changing city and economy, with competition for jobs, housing, and political power.

•The East St. Louis Riots were a series of outbreaks of labor- and race-related violence by Whites   who murdered upwards of  250 African-Americans in late May and early July 1917. Another 6,000 Blacks were left homeless  and the burning and vandalism cost approximately $400,000 ($7,982,000 in 2021) in property damage. The July 1917 episode in particular was marked by White-led violence throughout the city. At the end of July, some 10,000 Black citizens marched in silent protest in New York City in condemnation of the massacre. 

The Ocoee Massacre was a White mob attack on African-American residents in northern Ocoee, Florida, (near Orlando) which occurred on November 2, 1920, the day of the U.S. presidential election. Most estimates total 30–35 Black people killed.  Most African American-owned buildings and residences in northern Ocoee were burned to the ground. Other African Americans living in southern Ocoee were later killed or driven out on threat of more violence. Ocoee essentially became an all-White town. The attack started after efforts to suppress Black citizens from voting.