Nearly two dozen massacres in the history of the United States. Repairs? Rarely.


The 1921 destruction in Tulsa was not the first or last racial massacre that razed homes, usurped land, or destroyed the livelihoods of black Americans.

One of the first was in 1863 – triggered by a bill. One of the last occurred in 1923 in Rosewood, Florida. Whatever the triggering event, the desire was generally the same: to destroy the upward mobility of blacks.

Illustrations from Harper’s Weekly show the racial massacre in New Orleans in 1866. Drawn by Theodore R. Davis of Harper’s Weekly.
Library of Congress

Below is a database of recorded massacres (defined for the purposes of this project as one or more mob attacks on a black community which resulted in the overall loss of lives, homes, land and means of subsistence).

The attacks have often driven residents of a community away for good. In other cases, black residents hid in swamps and woods for days to escape death. Others have tried to rebuild their city’s former glory, but have failed with little or no help from the surrounding community or the government.

One of the most frequently used justifications for an attack? The rumor that an African-American man had assaulted a white woman. Usually the rumor was unfounded. It has often been triggered by erroneous reporting.

This list is by no means complete. The attacks were often denied and undocumented by the authorities. It is a living and breathing document drawn from numerous reports, historical sites and encyclopedias, among other online resources.

I have also contacted each city listed in this database to find out if any repair measures are being taken (of any kind) and if the history of the city includes repairs of any kind. The information I received, along with other information found during research, is included in the “Repair History” section.

When more information becomes available, it will be added.

In rare cases, the aftermath of a massacre and the assistance provided have been meticulously documented. White Merchants in New York, for example, raised $ 40,000 for black victims of the 1863 attack. The committee’s notes were archived at the Library of Congress and made available through the HathiTrust digital library. See them here.

Keeping the public informed of the too often overlooked history of this nation’s massacres is also up to you.

Is your family or community history missing from this list? Send us your story with the documentation. Contact me at [email protected]




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