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A Moderate Point of View: "The Elaine Massacre and the Elaine 12"!! It is important that you Never Stop Learning Your History!!

Controversial Content
Added: Sunday, August 18th 2019 at 1:51pm by AMODPOVW
Category: News & Issues
Related Tags: history


Until this morning, I had never heard of the "Elaine Massacre or the Elaine Twelve" and as a History Wonk and former History Teacher, I was ashame that it had escaped me.  I knew about Tulsa, I knew about Rosewood, I knew about East St. Louis, I knew about Washington, DC, but Elaine...not so much!

So here is what I learned this morning about a dark part of our history. Sometimes it is important to remember our history....and to learn from it!:

The Elaine massacre began on September 30–October 1, 1919 at Hoop Spur in the vicinity of Elaine in rural Phillips County, Arkansas. An estimated 100 to 237 black people were killed, along with five white men. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, "the Elaine Massacre was by far the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and possibly the bloodiest racial conflict in the history of the United States"...

Located in the Arkansas Delta, Phillips County had been historically developed for cotton plantations, and was worked by African-American slaves before the Civil War. In the early 20th century the population was still overwhelmingly black, as most freedmen and their descendants had stayed as illiterate farm workers and sharecroppers. 

African Americans outnumbered whites in the area around Elaine by a ten-to-one ratio, and by three-to-one in the county overall. White landowners controlled the economy, selling cotton on their own schedule, running high-priced plantation stores where farmers had to buy seed and supplies, and settling accounts with sharecroppers in lump sums, without listing items.

The Progressive Farmers and Household Union of America had organized chapters in the Elaine area in 1918-19. On September 29, representatives met with about 100 black farmers at a church near Elaine to discuss how to obtain fairer settlements from landowners. Whites had resisted union organizing by the farmers and often spied on or disrupted such meetings. In a confrontation at the church, a county deputy was shot and killed, and another white man wounded...

The county sheriff organized a posse, and whites gathered to put down what was rumored as a "black insurrection". Other whites entered Phillips County to join the action, making a mob of 500 to 1000. They attacked blacks on sight across the county. The governor called in 500 federal troops, who arrested nearly 260 blacks and were accused of killing some. Over a three-day period, fatalities included 100-240 blacks, with some estimates of more than 800, as well as five white men. The events have been subject to debate, especially the total of black deaths.

The only men prosecuted for these events were 122 African Americans, with 73 charged with murder. Twelve were quickly convicted and sentenced to death by all-white juries for murder of the white deputy at the church. Others were convicted of lesser charges and sentenced to prison. During appeals, the death penalty cases were separated. Six convictions (known as the Ware defendants) were overturned at the state level for technical trial details. These six defendants were retried in 1920 and convicted again, but on appeal the State Supreme Court overturned the verdicts, based on violations of the Due Process Clause and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, due to exclusion of blacks from the juries. The lower courts failed to retry the men within the two years required by Arkansas law, and the defense finally gained their release in 1923...

The NAACP sent its Field Secretary, Walter F. White, from New York City to Elaine in October 1919 to investigate events. White was of mixed, majority-European ancestry; blond and blue-eyed, he could pass for white. He was granted credentials from the Chicago Daily News. He gained an interview with Governor Charles Hillman Brough, who gave him a letter of recommendation for other meetings with whites, as well as an autographed photograph. 

White had been in Phillips County for a brief time when he learned there were rumors floating about him. He quickly took the first train back to Little Rock. The conductor told the young man that he was leaving "just when the fun is going to start," because they had found out that there was a "damned yellow nigger passing for white and the boys are going to get him." When White asked what the boys would do to the man, the conductor told White that "when they get through with him he won't pass for white no more!"

White had time to talk with both black and white residents in Elaine. He reported that local people said that up to 100 blacks had been killed. White published his findings in the Daily News, the Chicago Defender, and The Nation, as well as the NAACP's magazine The Crisis. He "characterized the violence as an extreme response by white landowners to black unionization." 

Governor Brough asked the United States Post Office Department to prohibit the mailing of the Chicago Defender and Crisis to Arkansas, while local officials attempted to enjoin distribution of the Defender. Years later, White said in his memoir that people in Elaine told him that up to 200 blacks had been killed...

In early 2000, a conference on the Elaine riot was held at the Delta Cultural Center in the county seat of Helena, Arkansas. It was an effort to review the facts but did not result in "closure" for the people of Phillips County. The Associated Press spoke with author Grif Shockley, who has published a book on the riot. He said that in 2000, there were still two versions of the riot, which he characterized as the "white" version, related to their idea that the union planned an attack on whites, and a "black" version, related to farmers' efforts to gain fair settlements of their crops. Shockley said there "was plenty of evidence to say whites attacked blacks indiscriminately." Local electoral offices were divided between the races in West Helena and the county.




User Comments

I am going to research this. The story of White sounds familiar, but I'm not familiar with the massacre. 

Actually I had heard of the Walter White story also....but it was not until today that it was associated with the Elaine Massacre in my mind.  Now, if I am not mistaken White did other undercover operations....but this apparently is the one that brought him some renoun!{#basic-laugh.gif}

My only question is could this happen today or are we seeing a different form of the same in domestic terrorism?

I would have to say a different form of the same in domestic terrorism!!

Hard to imagine the legal system allowing some of the things that happened in Elaine to happen today.  But the kind of fear that could cause these kinds of acts is very much present!

Working on another series of Post about these type of incidents....partly motivated by something I read in the "Unlikely CEO"!!{#basic-laugh.gif}

Wait for my next Post and you will see what I mean!{#basic-laugh.gif}

It is happening now APOD. Most of us are not recognizing now any more than those of the past did.


Looking forward to it. Hope you will help me with some of my discussions on my FB page when I start highlighting points from the book. 

You bet I will!!!!!!!!!

Was actually discussing a part of it yesterday with a friend of mine... a Therapist who was concerned about the effects the present atmosphere (White Nationalism) was having young black mines.

I referenced Jolyn's evolution immediately following the death of Emmit Toil and how a closer look at her history had informed her views at the moment!!  Man I am telling you...that book contains some really powerful and important stuff!!!!!!!!{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}


Meant Emmit Till!!!!!{#basic-laugh.gif}

NBT.....believe it or not, the real world me actually agrees with you......while world I want us to be is not ready to accept that!!{#basic-mouth-shut.gif}{#basic-mouth-shut.gif}{#basic-mouth-shut.gif}

Some proof to what you are saying might even be present in my absence of knowledge of the violence surrounding groups like ANTIFA!!  I often ask myself how did these guys just appear on my radar....when I should have paid closer attention to the evolution of certain types of 'Whacko" groups!!

But truly....you point is well taken!{#basic-laugh.gif}

Thanks. Yes, she was angry and was able to be rational with her anger, but I imagine back then that would not have been easy.

writer the key word there is "Rational"!!!!!!!{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}{#apploud.gif}

Had never heard of it.

This is new to me. But in no way surprises me. Its always about who has the power, has means to subvert the law and all morality. Though I bet anything that was occuring 50 years before was horrifically worse. Those that set up colonial states do so without much local co-operation generally. Those that resort to slaving (something that was the norm for most of human history -aren't we just great as a species?) are hardly going to make great role models for sure.

Other than Benjamin Franklyn, obviously. A true wit, an intelligent man. In fairness, he only had two slaves, though his newspaper regularly updated readin' folk with news about slave sales. 

And he's one of the USA's finest. 

I guess the white people that opposed slavery and helped free them are  not included in your one od America's finest.

Very good Oakie, Can't recall when I ever heard you say something so wise before.

"It's always about who has the power."

Now can you apply that wisdom to today's social power turn around?


Tess, the Underground Railway folks were the finest Americans of all time.

Ohhhhh! You think the Liberals are in charge? A Nazi like you will always play that card. 

What party does Trump, the Dick Head, represent? Ain't Liberal, yet he is clearly in power.

Yet you, you fickwit, still seem to think that Liberals are in control.

If we were, we wouldn't be fucking the planet like Herr Trumpe. 

We'd be trying to save it.

See, the problem with tiny minded little twerps like you, is that you don't and cannot, think beyond your national borders. So you fail catergorically to see the bigger picture, and you wave your little national flag at the great expense of all life on the Planet Earth. 

You fucking retard!

You may be a scholar of God, giggle, but he clearly don't give a fuck about you! That's your pay back for all you've been. And you will be presented with the evidence of your folly, catergorically, within your lifetime. You fucking dupe!

I had never heard about it, but nothing that you describe about it surprises me.  I find it appalling but not surprising.

Sounds like a big mess hinged on fear. 

Amod, you seem to be under the impression that Antifa is some sort of white nationalist organization. Actually it is a plastic creation of the radical Left. It did not exist two years ago and its primary function is about the same as the black shirts of Mussolini and the Brown shirts of Hitler. Their singular job is to incite violence and leave it to the media to characterize who is behind the masks. The media has been characterizing these paid thugs as "white nationalists" and just as they had hoped black men like yourself and your therapist friend have bought into it completely. You might have noticed that everyone antifa has attacked has been white.  

No No...NBT I clearly understand that ANTIFA is from the Left! {#basic-laugh.gif}

I was speaking to my personal absence of knowledge of who and what ANTIFA was and is....and that after gaining some knowledge I now liken them to those same types of groups that put on those WTO Riots.  I view them as Anarchist....and clearly they have an agenda that is based in chaos!

Now here is where the absence of knowledge can become a danger.....just like you implied, blacks could confuse their opposition to "White Nationalist" or "Skin Heads" as support for Blacks.......where it clearly is not!

Have no fear, I have no consumed that Kool-Aid!{#basic-laugh.gif}

Again to corn a phrase from Samuel L. Jackson in one of the Die Hard Movies, I identify ANTIFA as a bunch of "Rich White Kids" with White People Issues! {#basic-laugh.gif}  

Geat Comment!!  Thanks!{#basic-laugh.gif}

It is hilarious how those who are most like Herr Hitler accuse the emotional left of being such a thing. One minute the left are snowflakes and the next they are brutal stormtroopers. The nazis were white, they had the church on their side, advocated for guns, despised foreigners, habitually invaded other nations and well looked a lot like the Republicans do now, unless you are blind of course.

I do enjoy the irony of one who paints with manure calling himself NoBullThinker.

I fear you are wasted here AMOD, especially when it comes to those of your political persuasion, they've no idea what the game of playing Devil's advocate means nor the idea of self reflection, in fact I wonder if they have a reflection at all?

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