THE ELAINE RIOT OF 1919
This brings us to the Riot itself. When a group of Blacks met in a church at Hoops Spur, a few miles north of Elaine, it was like in the movie I mentioned with Denzel, there were members of the sheriff’s department and others assigned to make sure nothing bad came of the meeting. That is the official line. All my life I’ve heard another story from older blacks, some of whom lived through it.
One thing for sure is as told by blacks and whites alike, there were many dozens of black faced people that were killed. Some whites later told authorities that gangs of whites just walked up and shot any black person that they saw.
Officially there were 5 whites that were killed during the following days and at least 100 blacks. Because of the lack of documentation for black in those days, it is admitted that there could have been several hundred.
It is considered by many the worst race riot in the history of the country.
Hundreds of blacks was arrested, detained or questioned. Tortured would be a better description according to some. A dozen blacks were to become known as the Elaine 12. They were tried and convicted. Some of their trials lasted less than 8 minutes per man. After some years they were released. Thanks to the effort of many including the famed Scipio Jones. My sister married into a Jones family who incidentally are descendent relatives of that great man.
None of the whites that I know of ever had to give account for the deaths of so many black, even though some spake with first hand knowledge of atrocities committed upon blacks whose only offense was happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Under this kind of oppression, it would not suprize me if these blacks and some poor whites longed for something better. That said, I never heared a black or a white person speak good of communism. I never heard any who wanted a hand out in those days. They were very proud men and women who only wanted to reap what they sowed. That is much better than what I see from many of the Wall Street Occupation crowd today.
I sat here in Little Rock and a many times think back to all the stories told me by many old men about 1919. Except for an accasional mention of the 40 acres and a mule promised blacks, every thing I remember is pro capitalism.
How can a group called Progressive Farmers of Arkansas be anything other than socialistic? After all there was talk of unions and the like at least in other States and no doubt some of these men were exposed to the talk.
Let me answer it this way. It is said in the scriptures, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” That is where people cannot see any coming good. On the other hand if they look into their future and can only see bad as far as can be determined, they have a choice.
Continue to pt 3