Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: June 02, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412971928 | Print ISBN: 9781412950855 | Online ISBN: 9781412971928| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Elaine Massacre of 1919 (Phillips County, Arkansas)
Matthew F. Nichter
The year 1919 was marked by race riots in cities across the United States, including Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Omaha. The deadliest incident occurred in rural Phillips County, Arkansas, that autumn. This entry analyzes the underlying causes of the violence; provides a chronology of the riot itself; describes the biased character of the official response, which resulted in the conviction of innocent African Americans; recounts how civil rights groups sought redress; and identifies legacies of the conflict. Like many of the riots elsewhere, the violence in Phillips County erupted against a backdrop of labor strife, growing African American militancy, and elite fears of leftist radicalism. But the vast scale of the bloodshed was an outgrowth of the repressive nature of plantation agriculture in the Jim Crow South. Landownership in the Arkansas Delta was highly concentrated among a small number of White plantation owners. Their workforce consisted largely of Black sharecroppers ...