Lessons Learned?

On Sunday, August 3, 1919, the Rev.  L. K. Williams took the pulpit at Olivet Baptist Church, in Chicago.

Rev. Williams offered a pointed lesson in geography for those who had tried to blame Chicago’s Black residents for the racist violence of the past week.

East of Indiana Avenue to the lake, and from Thirtieth to Thirty-Ninth Street, where the greatest number of our people live in a ratio of 500 to 1 white, and in a district through which thousands of whites pass daily, there was but one outstanding unfortunate occurrence. Let those who charge us with responsibility for the riot explain this fact.

The situation was actually more extreme than Williams claimed. While riot violence had been spread around the South Side, there were more incidents of racist violence west of Wentworth Avenue, in the majority white neighborhoods around the stockyards, than there were in the Black Belt.


Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s