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Home > Programs > St. Louis History in Black and White


St. Louis History in Black and White: From Dred Scott to Barack Obama


East St. Louis Race Riot: July 17, 1917

Race riots were not uncommon in the decades following the Civil War. Many were inspired by the migration of poor black farm workers from the South to the North looking for work. Northern whites watched them arrive with some alarm, primarily because blacks were a source of cheap labor and threatened to take their jobs. This was, in fact, often realized as white-owned companies exploited the situation. The bloodiest and ugliest of the numerous race riots in many of the cities in the industrial North took place in East St. Louis on July 2, 1917. Historian-journalist Harper Barnes detailed the incident in his book Never Been A Time.

Listen to the episode:



Harper Barnes journalist/author of Never Been A Time



Additional information about this episode:

Background with audio and photos

Marcus Garvey's response

Protest photo

Harlem Protest photo and story

Riot photo

Longer history about the riot


Video from Nine Network of Public Media:


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