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Wells-Barnett, Mrs. Ida B. The East St. Louis Massacre: The Greatest Outrage of the Century . Chicago: The Negro Fellowship Herald Press, 1917. [format: book], [genre: report; narrative]. Permission: Public domain
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=wells-stlouis.html


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Chapter VI.

Such is the history in part of one of the most dastardly crimes ever committed in the name of civilization, on defenseless black men, women

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and children. That the State of Lincoln, Logan and Grant — three names made famous by their fight to give liberty to the black man — should furnish this black page for history, is the shame of all true American citizens. The world is at war because the race prejudice of one nation tries to dominate other nations. The race prejudice of the United States asks Americans of black skins to keep an inferior place and when these Negroes ask an equal opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they are lynched, burned alive, disfranchised and massacred! Whenever a black man turns in this land of the free and home of the brave, — in industry, in civic endeavor, in political councils in the ranks of Christians (?) — this hydra headed monster confronts him; dominates, oppresses and murders him!

This time it was done in the name of labor! The Negro accepted the opportunity made by the scarcity of labor in the North to leave the South, which has fattened on his labor and yet kept him in serfdom for his fifty years of freedom. He was glad of the chance to get better wages, but even more glad to come where he could educate his children and be a man. But the labor unions which have this country by the throat, which paralyze its industries, dynamite its buildings and murder men at their own sweet will — refuse to let Negroes work with them and murder them if they work anyway, in what they call "white men's jobs."

In East St. Louis these labor forces had the aid of the civil authorities, the police and the state militia, in the work of murdering over two hundreds Negroes and destroying three million dollars worth of property. Unless this outrage is punished, no American citizen's life, liberty or property is safe in any state.

In the present state of our National development, the only remedy, for the lynching and rioting evil of the American nation is to make it a federal crime. Public sentiment which has encouraged lynchings by silence or by sensational newspapers accounts must be aroused to see the evil to the whole American Nation. It is an awful commentary on our country's brand of Democracy — that aside from a few newspaper editorials — no persons in this country have spoken out against this black stain save Theodore Roosevelt and a minister of the gospel in a sermon preached in St. Louis, Mo., the Sunday following the massacre.

It rests then with the Negroes everywhere to stand their ground and sell their lives as dearly as possible when attacked; to work as a unit, demanding punishment for rioters; protection for workers, and liberty for all the citizens in our country. It is for the Negro to say whether they will unite their forces to make this country safe for the residence of any Negro anywhere he desires to live in it. It is for them to show whether we can bring sufficient influence to bear to see that the militia of Illinois, for whose wanton murder of hundreds of innocent men, women and children of our race, whom they failed to protect in that awful orgy of human butchery, which took place in East St. Louis, Illinois, on Monday, July 2nd, 1917.

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Wells-Barnett, Mrs. Ida B. The East St. Louis Massacre: The Greatest Outrage of the Century . Chicago: The Negro Fellowship Herald Press, 1917. [format: book], [genre: report; narrative]. Permission: Public domain
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=wells-stlouis.html
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