On this day in history, June 4, 2011 — United States Census Bureau: Over 1 in 4 Black and Latino Americans Living in Poverty

The United States Census Bureau calculates national poverty levels by using a threshold income value set according to family size and composition. In 2010, a family of five earning a combined annual income below $26,675 qualified as “impoverished.” On June 4, 2011, the United States Census Bureau released data collected in the 2010 census which showed 46.2 million Americans living in poverty – the largest number recorded since poverty estimates were first collected in 1959. The 2010 poverty rate of 15.1% was the highest recorded in America since 1993.

The census data further revealed that poverty rates differed greatly by ethnic group, with 27.47% of African Americans and 26.6% of Latino Americans living in poverty compared to 9.9% of whites and 12.1% of Asian Americans. Other indicia of economic and social well-being also demonstrated racial differences. For example, census figures showed that 18.1% of Asian Americans, 20.5% of African Americans, and 30.7% of Latino Americans lacked health insurance in 2010 compared to 11.7% of whites and 16.3% of the nation overall.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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On this day in history, June 2, 2011 — Alabama Passes Anti-Immigrant Legislation Authorizing Racial Profiling

On June 2, 2011, Alabama’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed House Bill (HB) 56, a controversial anti-immigration bill much tougher than a similar Arizona law passed the year before. One week later, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed the bill into law. Like Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, Alabama’s immigration law authorizes police officers, relying on racial profiling, to check the immigration status of anyone detained or arrested who they believe may be in the country illegally. HB 56 also bans undocumented immigrants from enrolling in any public college or university, mandates that parents reveal the immigration status of any child attending public school, and requires school districts to report the number of undocumented students to the state board of education.

Civil rights organizations and religious groups mounted legal and political opposition to HB 56. Many complained the law prohibited acts of charity by criminalizing those who rent property or provide transportation to an undocumented immigrant with prior knowledge of that person’s immigration status. Opponents also feared the law would discourage school attendance by undocumented children and create a discriminatory school atmosphere. Indeed, in May 2012, the Department of Justice announced that HB 56 had “diminished access to and quality of education for many of Alabama’s Hispanic children” and found that more than 13% of Hispanic children had dropped out of school since the previous fall. Subsequent legal challenges succeeded in invalidating portions of the law.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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On this day in history, June 3, 1943 –White Factory Workers in Detroit Strike to Protest Promotion of Black Workers

In the early 1940’s, many people migrated to Northern cities from rural areas in the Deep South in search of manufacturing jobs in the growing wartime economy. The four-county area of Detroit, Michigan, received a disproportionally large number of defense contracts to produce goods for the military. Between 1940 and 1943, Detroit’s population increased by 200,000-300,000 people, 50,000 of whom were African American, which increased African Americans’ share of the city’s population to ten percent. Due to pressure from the Fair Employment Practices Commission and a high demand for labor, many factories in Detroit soon began employing African Americans.

During this period, Detroit’s Packard Motor Company, which manufactured airplane and marine engines, hired a number of recent migrants, including white Southerners as well as African Americans. There was speculation that members of the Ku Klux Klan held low- and high-level positions in the company. Packard’s personnel director openly expressed his own racial prejudice, insisting that white workers should not have to work with blacks. But under pressure from the government, three African American employees were promoted to the aircraft assembly line in June 1943.

On June 3, 1943, almost all of the facility’s 25,000 white workers went on strike in protest of the promotions, ceasing production. The company president appealed to the War Labor Board to assist with the strike and a representative from the War Department threatened to fire the striking workers. The strike lasted for three days and led to the suspension of thirty strike organizers before white workers began returning to work.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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On this day in history, June 1, 1921 — White Rioters in Tulsa Leave Hundreds Dead, Black Community Destroyed

In 1921, the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma, enjoyed significant economic prosperity and political independence. Located in the city’s Greenwood District and known as “Negro Wall Street,” it was considered one of the wealthiest black communities in the nation.

On May 30, 1921, nineteen-year-old Dick Rowland, a black man, boarded an elevator while working in a building in downtown Tulsa. The elevator was operated by Sarah Page, a seventeen-year-old white girl. When a store clerk heard a scream, he ran to the elevator to find Ms. Page and, thinking she’d been attacked, called police.

Ms. Page told police that Mr. Rowland had startled her by grabbing her arm but she did not want to press charges. Rumors spread, and the story quickly morphed into a rape allegation. Police arrested Mr. Rowland at his Greenwood home and jailed him at the courthouse. The next night, a mob of white men sought to lynch him but the sheriff and deputies defended the jail, along with thirty armed black men from Greenwood who also stood guard.

Undeterred, members of the mob returned with firearms, and several whites were killed or wounded in the ensuing gunfight. When the black men retreated to Greenwood, white rioters attacked the town, burning forty city blocks, killing up to 300 black residents, and displacing many more. The prosperous black community was destroyed, but no rioters were convicted and survivors received no compensation for lost property. After eighty years, Oklahoma approved funds to redevelop the area and build a memorial in 2001.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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On this day in history, May 30, 1822 — Denmark Vesey’s Rebellion Against Slavery Uncovered

Denmark Vesey spent his childhood traveling throughout the Caribbean as an enslaved black servant of a white sea captain, then worked for the captain as a house servant in Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Vesey eventually started a family, fathered three children and, in 1799, purchased his freedom with $1500 won in a lottery. His family remained enslaved.

Over the next decade, Mr. Vesey worked as a carpenter and co-founded an African Methodist Episcopal church. In 1820, Charleston authorities ordered the closure of Mr. Vesey’s church. Angered by the closure, fed up with the continued enslavement of his children, and inspired by the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Mr. Vesey began planning a rebellion to free enslaved black people in Charleston. The attack was planned for the second week of July 1822.

Mr. Vesey modeled his plan after the Haitian Revolution by exhorting his followers to kill their masters, free other enslaved blacks in the city, and sail to Haiti before whites could retaliate. On May 30, 1822, the plan was foiled when a black house servant named George Wilson informed his master of the pending revolt. Charleston authorities promptly arrested and interrogated dozens of suspected conspirators. Mr. Vesey was captured on June 22 and tortured but he refused to identify his comrades.

A total of 131 men was arrested; 67 were convicted and 35, including Denmark Vesey, were executed. The city destroyed Mr. Vesey’s church building. Mr. Vesey and his followers inspired abolitionists and black soldiers through the Civil War.

 

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

 

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On this day in history, May 30, 1943 White Sailors and Soldiers Attack Latino Youth in Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots

World War II fueled a population influx into Los Angeles, California, in 1943 that coincided with an increase in petty crime. White residents blamed Latino youth, who often wore distinctive, colorful garments known as “zoot suits.” Many members of the military stationed in Los Angeles were hostile to wearers of zoot suits because wartime rationing rules forbade the production of such clothing. On May 30, 1943, a scuffle between a group of soldiers and a group of zoot suit wearers sparked a series of conflicts that became known as the Zoot Suit Riots.

During the riots, white sailors and soldiers attacked Latino youth wearing zoot suits, beat them with belt buckles and ropes, and stripped them of their clothes. Law enforcement did not intervene in support of the Latino victims and instead charged them with vagrancy. Los Angeles newspapers encouraged the violence and portrayed Latino youth as deserving of brutal treatment. There are no reports that death or serious injury resulted from the violence.

Critical observers rejected the crime-control justifications for the attacks and linked “zoot suit” violence to historical prejudice against people of color in the United States. A July 1943 article in Crisis, the magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), asserted that “Zoot Riots are Race Riots.” Following the Zoot Suit Riots, similar incidents in which white members of the military and white employees of military contractors would target black and Latino youth with violence occurred in cities throughout the United States. By one estimate, 242 instances of racial violence occurred in forty-seven American cities in 1943 alone.

From the Equal Justice Initiative’s A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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On this day in history, May 29, 1917 — White Mob Riots in East St. Louis Over Threat of Black Labor

On May 28, 1917, in East St. Louis, Illinois, a meeting of 3000 white union members marched on the Mayor’s office to make demands about the job competition resulting from the city’s growing African American population. The disgruntled union members were upset that African Americans who had migrated from the South were being hired by companies who wanted to weaken the bargaining power of white unions. The large group quickly devolved into an angry mob, and rioted through the streets of East St. Louis, destroying property and physically assaulting African Americans at random.

Local law enforcement was unable to control the large crowd and the National Guard was deployed to regain order in the community. After the riots were calmed, little action was taken to prevent the violence from restarting and none of the union’s participants were arrested. New agreements were not established with white unions and local police were not better equipped to handle large mobs.

The National Guard withdrew in mid-June despite the fact that racial tensions in the city remained high. In July, attacks began again; this time they lasted for four days and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 African Americans. Another 6000 were forced to flee their homes to escape the violence.

From the Equal Justice Initiative’s A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.

“The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is proud to present A History of Racial Injustice – 2018 Calendar.  America’s history of racial inequality continues to undermine fair treatment, equal justice, and opportunity for many Americans.  The genocide of Native people, the legacy of slavery and racial terror, and the legally supported abuse of racial minorities are not well understood.  EJI believes that a deeper engagement with our nation’s history of racial injustice is important to addressing present-day questions of social justice and equality.

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