This weekend marked the 103rd anniversary of the 1919 Elaine massacre, one of the deadliest episodes of racial violence in U.S. history. The violence started on September 30, 1919, when guards stopped two white men from breaking into a meeting between Black sharecroppers in Elaine, Arkansas, who were organizing to demand fair payments for their crops. After an exchange of gunfire, a white man was killed. White mobs, backed by the U.S. military, responded with three days of anti-Black violence, indiscriminately killing hundreds of Black people under the false claim of stopping a Black insurrection. Much of the Black farmers’ land was stolen as a result. We speak to Julia Wright, daughter of the acclaimed Black author Richard Wright, who called Elaine home and wrote about his great-uncle Silas Hoskins’s lynching in Elaine three years prior in 1916. Wright says she saw the lynching in a new light after the murder of George Floyd. “Two lynchings separated by so many years and yet so similar,” says Wright. We also speak with Paul Ortiz, historian at the University of Florida, who recalls the nationwide crusade, which included journalist Ida B. Wells, to seek justice for the Black farmers who remained and were taken into custody after the massacre, and ultimately won their freedom.
This content originally appeared on Democracy Now! and was authored by Democracy Now!.