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Rumors, Reactions, Reconsiderations: Reconsidering the Elaine Race Riots of 1919.

This website will be updated in early May to include the results of the recent conference. If you'd like to get a notice of the update, send us an email or leave a comment and let us know. (You will not be added to any type of mailing list.)

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If the past cannot teach the present, and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on and the world has wasted a great deal of time--Russell Hoban.

On the night of September 30, 1919, a group of black sharecroppers gathered inside a small, wood-frame church building outside of Elaine, Arkansas to hold a farmers union meeting. During the meeting, a car carrying two white Phillips County law officers and a black trusty stopped outside the church. Shots were fired. When the shooting ended, one white man had been killed and the other seriously wounded. This incident touched off a wave of mob violence known as the Elaine Race Riots.

What was the true purpose of the union meeting? Who were the behind-the-scenes leaders? How many people were actually killed? Why bring up sensitive topics at a sensitive time? Attend the free upcoming conference. In an effort to improve our understanding of this tragic episode and move toward a closer historical and personal reconciliation, a conference entitled, Rumors and Reactions: Reconsidering the Elaine Race Riots of 1919" will be presented February 10-11, 2000 at the Malco Theatre in Helena, Arkansas.

The conference is jointly sponsored by the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies at the Central Arkansas Library System, the Delta Cultural Center, an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, and the Phillips County Historical Society. The conference is funded in part by the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Arkansas Black History Advisory Committee, a part of the Arkansas History Commission.

We welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas. To register for the free conference, or obtain more information, call Nashid Madyun, Staff Historian, Delta Cultural Center, (870)338-4350, or email us at the link below. Please note the disclaimers on the Links Page. Thank you!
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1919: WWI had ended. Negroes were back on the farm. It was the Red Summer.
What really happened? 80 years later, why is there so little known about the event known as the "Elaine Race Riot", that eventually resulted in a landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decision? Of the 26 "race riots" that summer, why is there little, if any mention, about the one "riot" which has affected how all U.S. Citizens now look at Civil Rights and Due Process?

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