I Just Want to Live

“Race riots decades before the Civil War in such Northern bastions of abolition as Cincinnati, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York, and in smaller cities and towns throughout the North, blacks were attacked in the streets by gangs of whites and their neighborhoods were invaded and sacked. African Americans were severely beaten and even killed and black homes and institutions- including schools, churches, and even orphanages-were destroyed by white mobs long before the end of slavery. “The negroes were not generally welcomed in the North”.

“Many of the northerners who sympathized with the oppressed blacks in the South never dreamt of having them as their neighbors. In the second decade of the twentieth century alone half a million African Americans moved from the impoverished rural to the booming industrial cities of the North, wooed by the promise of jobs and freedom. The migration intensified in the second half of the decade in an industrial boom fueled by the First World War. Blacks arrived by the trainloads, and many whites responded to the African American incursion with a horrific series of racial confrontations, riots and massacres that broke out in cities across the nation beginning in the summer of 1917 in East St. Louis.”

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