The 9/11 You’ve Probably Never Heard About

At least I never had. On this day in 1920, the Ocoee massacre occurred:

The Ocoee massacre was a violent race riot that broke out on November 2, 1920, the day of the presidential election of 1920, in Ocoee, Florida, a city in Orange County, Florida, United States. African-American-owned buildings and residences in northern Ocoee were burned to the ground, and as many as 500 African Americans may have been killed throughout the conflict. The African-Americans residing in Ocoee who were not direct victims of the race riot were later driven out by threats or force. Ocoee would then become an all-white town and remain as such “until sixty-one years later in 1981.” The riot is still considered the “single bloodiest day in modern American political history.”

The race riot was started as a white mob’s response to the persistence of Mose Norman, an African American, to vote on election day. Mose Norman was ordered and driven away when he first attempted to go to the polls. When he came back to the polls later, with a shotgun, he was driven away by whites, who would later form a mob to search for him. The white mob then surrounded the home of Julius “July” Perry, a prosperous local African-American farmer and contractor, where it was believed Norman was taking refuge. After Perry drove away the white mob with gunshots, the mob called for reinforcements from Orlando and Orange County, who then laid waste to the African-American community in Ocoee and eventually killed Perry. Norman would escape, never to be found. Other African Americans would flee into the orange groves, swamps and neighboring towns, leaving their homes and possessions behind.

You can do a google search and find a bunch more about it (this is a good piece), and there is a documentary called Ocoee: Legacy of the Election Day Massacre if you are interested.

At any rate, this is why there is Black History Month. Because basically, a 9/11 happened in 1920, and I’m 45 and never even heard of it until a black person on twitter I follow tweeted about it. Fer fuck’s sake, a couple dozen yokels got killed in a land grab (I’m simplifying a bit) in Texas and every kid in the nation “remembers” the Alamo. Here, 500 Americans were murdered, and it’s crickets.

100 replies
  1. 1

    Well, be fair, now. Those fellows in Texas were nice, white people fighting for their rights to steal a hunk of another country. These 500-odd Black people were race hustlers looking to vote themselves some “free stuff” most likely.

  2. 2
    MattF says:

    Just for kicks, I put ‘race riot’ into the Google search field… and Google promptly and helpfully suggested:

    race riot 1919
    race riot 1921
    race riot 1943
    race riot 1906
    race riot 1900


  3. 3
    Davebo says:

    Well in fairness it was more than a couple dozen killed at the Alamo but your point is still valid.

  4. 4
    anon says:

    so lets see, guns are easy for anyone to get AND police are too eager to harass and detain people going about their business. I don’t want another sandy hook or k’zoo to happen in my area so if I happen to see anyone with a gun and they’re not a police officer in uniform, then I am calling 911 and describing the situation accurately and truthfully and letting them deal with it.

    In the k’zoo case, apparently the neighbors saw and heard the shooter shooting his gun in his backyard and didn’t think to call anyone …

  5. 5
    Gene108 says:

    I always thought the 1898 coup in Wilmington, NC was bloodier, but I guess I got the size of the mob of 2000 insurgents confused with those actually killed.

  6. 6
    singfoom says:

    Read “A People’s History Of the United States” by Howard Zinn. That’ll help fill in a lot of holes deliberately left there during secondary education.

    Unfortunately, for a large number of our fellow citizens, the very act of looking backwards and acknowledging that bad things happened is offensive. The whole “shining city on a hill” was ever a myth, but it’s a real powerful one that people don’t want to let go of.

    Some horrible things have happened in this country. We should acknowledge them and look into the darkness and make sure we don’t let it happen again.

    Of course I type this as an orange haired blowhard keeps Riefenstahling all over the country, inciting hatred and fear of the other in my fellow citizens. Still gotta hope.

  7. 7
    dlwchico says:

    They made a movie out of Rosewood, but that was a different race riot a few years later.

  8. 8
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    There has been just one honest-to-goodness coup d’etat in American history, and it happened in 1898 when white racists overthrew the democratically elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina.

  9. 9
    burnspbesq says:

    And it’s far from the only such incident in Florida in the first half of the 20th Century. The citrus and lumber based Florida economy would have been unsustainable without labor conditions that were slavery in all but name, and terrorism was the way those conditions were established and maintained.

  10. 10
    RSA says:

    500 people killed?! Oh, my goodness. And I only knew about the Rosewood massacre in Florida, with many fewer deaths.

  11. 11
    shortstop says:

    Not only had I not heard of it, my sister lived in Ocoee for three years and I will bet this is going to be news to her.

  12. 12
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    The Black Panthers knew all about this shit, and what needed to happen to change things. The police and FBI took care of that little experiment – in particular, the real threat posed by Fred Hampton’s activism in raising class consciousness. Racism is an a priori condition for creating income inequality. The oligarchs know this.

    White America is running an operating system that blinkers them to all of this shit.

  13. 13
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:

    I vaguely remember hearing about Ocoee as an “all-white town” during the time I lived in Florida (1969-1975), but am ashamed to say I didn’t pursue the backstory as to why that would be.

    Some years later, I moved to metro Atlanta and learned in passing that the northern suburban bedroom community of Forsyth County was lily-white. At one point in the mid- or late 1980s, Oprah Winfrey brought her new TV show to Forsyth and basically did an hour-long confrontation with the white racists who were busy mounting “White Pride” parades and such. Whether causality, correlation, or coincidence I could not say, but not long after her appearance the County began to integrate. Today it is one of the most vibrant, diverse, multicultural places I’ve ever seen. I regularly spend 15-20 hours a week in one of the Forsyth County public libraries, and they are always busy and full of AA, South Asian, East Asian, Hispanic, and white kids and adults.

  14. 14
    Chris says:

    I thought you were going to say the Pinochet coup in Chile. Nine Eleven Nineteen-Seventy-something.

    Thanks for the education. “Half of writing history’s hiding the truth” – Malcolm Reynolds.

  15. 15
    Matt McIrvin says:

    it’s just a few miles north of Walt Disney World, which opened in 1971, a decade before the place started to desegregate.

  16. 16
    burnspbesq says:


    Zinn is every bit as ahistorical as the earlier work it purports to “correct.”

    History and polemics are not synonyms.

  17. 17
    DCF says:

    Half of writing history is hiding the truth

    ~ Malcolm ReynoldsSerenity

    Serenity (2005)

  18. 18
    dedc79 says:

    1) I’m ashamed to say this is the first i’ve ever heard of this massacre too. And it shouldn’t just be a Black History Month topic, it should be in american history textbooks (and taught, not skipped over).

    2) The 2016 version of Florida Man is at least a vast improvement upon the 1920 version.

  19. 19
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    James Loewen has done excellent work unearthing America’s ugly buried history.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    500 Blah Americans, John. Of course it’s crickets!

  21. 21
    Loviatar says:

    Racism; America’s original and ongoing sin.

  22. 22
    les says:

    And then Tulsa, 1921. Unknown numbers killed–unknown in part because 2 black hospitals burned down, along with 1200 homes.
    Wikipedia casual mention: The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories.

    You can kinda see why conservatives want to control the history books.

  23. 23
    Keith G says:

    The established power does what it can/must to to control the historical narrative that supports and praises the established power. It’s what we humans do. A long time ago, I started teaching using a history book that was so Anglo-centric that it might as well have come with it’s own white hood.

    Things have gotten better but there is so much left to do. I think that is why STEM curricula are so popular with conservatives. They cut down on the messy parts and keep it technical and dry.

  24. 24
    Patricia Kayden says:

    I’m 47 and have never heard of Ocaee either. I’ll blame that fact on growing up in Canada. Or better yet, blame Obama.

    I recently learned from LGM about the thousands of Latinos who were murdered by the Texas Rangers (now memorialized by a baseball team).

    This country has a bloody history when it comes to its treatment of minorities.

  25. 25
    singfoom says:

    @burnspbesq: That’s fair. It’s an introduction to the idea that the “Shining City on a Hill” isn’t all that we are. Given that, any recommendations for history books along those lines that you would consider not polemic?


  26. 26
    Chris says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.):

    Am I misremembering my history, or… I vaguely remember something about the rebellion that led to the Alamo starting out as a movement to restore the Mexican constitution, which somehow ended up hijacked into an Anglo nationalist movement. Does that ring any bells? Mexico and Latin America in general aren’t my forte, so it’s quite possible my mind is conflating different things.

  27. 27
  28. 28
    JPL says:

    It appears that the entertainment and movie business and threatening to move out of GA because of the discrimination bill moving through the senate and house.

  29. 29
    mark says:

    I’ve lived in Florida almost 55 years and have never heard of it. Thanks for the post, John.

  30. 30
    Chris says:


    Unfortunately, for a large number of our fellow citizens, the very act of looking backwards and acknowledging that bad things happened is offensive.

    It’s an utterly infantile attachment of self-identity with the collective entity you were born into, and it drives me insane.

    Most of us have learned by adulthood if not long before that our parents and the rest of the family is not perfect, that it’s okay to still love them, and that it’s also okay to disagree with them and point out where they’re going wrong. For some reason, the majority of the population is absolutely incapable of taking that step towards adulthood when it comes to the nation.

  31. 31
    JPL says:

    Cuban Americans want to reclaim their land in Cuba. I agree with them but only after blacks are able to reclaim their land in Florida and elsewhere.

  32. 32
    shortstop says:

    @shortstop: turns out she did know all about it. Hmmmm.

  33. 33
    PurpleGirl says:

    I thought I might have read about Ocoee but I checked the book I thought I’d read it in — no, it wasn’t mentioned there.

    If anyone wants to read a good book about AA history and culture, I’ve Known Rivers — Lives of Loss and Liberation by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot is an excellent read.

    Another good book about the AA experience is Where and When I Enter — The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America by Paula J. Giddings.

  34. 34
    shortstop says:

    @Chris: There’s also the fact that an increasing amount of research highlights conservatives’ attachment to binary thinking. Progressives are plenty blind and defensive about this stuff, too, so I’m not making this a problem of the right, but there’s indubitably less investment on the left in either-or definitions of virtue.

  35. 35
    JPL says:

    @PurpleGirl: Devil in the Grove about Thurgood Marshall is excellent also.

  36. 36
    Ruviana says:

    @Chris: 1973. Kissinger’s observation regarding the Allende administration: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

    Don’t want to be a derail–it’s all part of the same bigger picture, repeated over and over again.

  37. 37
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:


    Well, good. Glad to hear it. As LBJ* supposedly said, “Grab ’em by the balls, and their hearts and minds will follow.”

    *(Saving raven the trouble: Fuck LBJ.)

  38. 38
    Mike in NC says:

    The defenders of the Alamo also wanted to expand slavery into new territories.

  39. 39
    Hungry Joe says:

    When I was a very little kid we drove from Indiana to Florida for a vacation: My parents, three kids, and our African-American maid, who was to look after us kids part of the time and also have a vacation of her own. On the way home, driving north out of Florida, we got pulled over for speeding … in Orange County. Three State Police cars eventually showed up; after much negotiation they shook my father down for $50 cash (serious money in 1956) — no ticket, no receipt. As my father was walking back to the car, one of them advised him to drive more slowly: “I can understand why you’d want to kill that black [n-word] in there,” he said, “but I don’t know why you’d want to kill that nice family of yours.”

    When we got home my father wrote a letter to the governor of Florida. Someone in the governor’s office wrote back, saying they’d look into it. When nothing happened he wrote another letter, but this time there was no reply. My mother always said she was half-glad it happened so that us kids could see this kind of thing up close.

    And it seemed like for the rest of his life my father told that story every time he heard the word “Florida.”

  40. 40
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    Everything about race gets stuffed down the memory hole. Now, America is number one at being shocked. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge this will forever be disappointed that socialist programs aren’t passed, and will forever misidentify the reason why.

    [[looking at you, Sanders supporters]]

  41. 41
    Cacti says:

    At any rate, this is why there is Black History Month. Because basically, a 9/11 happened in 1920, and I’m 45 and never even heard of it until a black person on twitter I follow tweeted about it. Fer fuck’s sake, a couple dozen yokels got killed in a land grab (I’m simplifying a bit) in Texas and every kid in the nation “remembers” the Alamo. Here, 500 Americans were murdered, and it’s crickets.

    Sadly, the Ocoee massacre is just one of many racist pogroms/acts of mob violence against black people in this country, and generally none of them garner a mention in your average high school history text. Some of the bloodier ones include:

    New York draft riots (1863) – mobs of working class white Civil War conscripts kill at least 105 black NYCers

    East St. Louis, Illinois (1919) – white mobs kill 100-200 black people

    Elaine, Akransas (1919) – white mobs kill 100-200 black people

    Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921) – white mobs kill 150-200 black people

    Rosewood, Florida (1923) – white mob kills 26 black people, razes town of Rosewood

    In what came to be known as “The Red Summer of 1919” there were acts of racist mob violence against black people in 26 different U.S. cities.

  42. 42
    Revrick says:

    Here’s an article sure to depress: It includes incidents directed against Catholics, Asians and various ethnic groups, but mostly catalogues the dreary regularity of attacks on our African-Americans by whites. Of course, it omits the estimated 4,000 cases of lynching.
    It’s reported that in 1865 and 1866, 500 white men were indicted for murdering an African-American in the great state of Texas alone. No need to guess how many were convicted of their crime.

  43. 43
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Hungry Joe: One of the IBM machine repairmen I had was a nice AA, tall, slender and always in a 3-piece pin-stripe suit. One day he has an appointment for the annual check-up and he rings the bell. I ticked back and he starts walking upstairs. (I lived on the third floor.) I went into the hall and I hear the super’s wife stopping him and asking who he’s there to see. So I called down, “IBM, third floor, please.” I wanted the super’s wife to understand who he was. I was mortified and apologized to him. I never said anything to her because I was so mad about the incident. It wasn’t like it was the first time he’d been there. The IBM tool-kit fit in a standard briefcase at the time.

  44. 44
    Revrick says:

    @Revrick: I should add that if you scroll down the article to the list of incidents, many cited have links to click on that go into greater detail. Eric Foner, in his tome on Reconstruction cites an estimate of 50,000 blacks murdered during that era and its aftermath.

  45. 45
    Loviatar says:


    As said earlier in another thread. Like sexism, racism is casual and pervasive.

  46. 46
    Chris says:


    There’s also the fact that an increasing amount of research highlights conservatives’ attachment to binary thinking.

    I think this is very true and also something that’s popped up a lot in recent years with regards to their increasing drive for political purity. McCain and Romney were both tagged as RINOs who were really just crypto-liberals by the conservative base. George W. Bush, once his name had become mud, was suddenly decided to be “a liberal,” whom the conservatives had opposed all along. More recently I’ve been seeing stuff all over social media claiming that Trump not only isn’t a true conservative, but is really much more of a liberal and like Obama.

    It’s not just the fact that they insist that everybody they don’t like, or who’s no longer convenient to associate with, is Not A True Conservative. What’s truly bizarre is the belief that they’re all liberals – that the entire world fits into one of two tribes, and if you’re not in theirs, you’re in the other. It’s George Bush’s “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” taken to its absurdist extremes.

    Another example would be Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.” I mean… I identify as being on the “left,” but it would never occur to me to write an entire thesis about how communism should really be identified with the right wing. My “side” of the aisle isn’t always right; my “side” of the aisle can produce monsters; the ideas of my “side” can be taken to terrible places. In a nutshell, my “side” isn’t perfect. I accept that. Or to hit closer to home, I can accept that FDR or LBJ were liberals while still recognizing that some of their actions were terrible and inexcusable (the internment of Japanese-Americans and the Vietnam War, respectively); I don’t need to spin a theory where they were secretly moles of Wall Street to keep my political map straight.

    All of which to me seems really, really elementary and part of the things that you’re supposed to come to understand as you grow up – it’s part of the greater and simpler point, “life is complicated.” Yet as pointed out above, most conservatives today seem utterly incapable of it. Which is why I’ve been known to say that the movement is more properly a topic for psychiatry than politics.

  47. 47
    DCF says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne:

    Give it a rest, for the love of the-deity-of-your-choice….

    I ‘acknowledge’ (sadly) this ‘blind spot’ of the American populace, and am ‘disappointed’ that more social democratic programs are not ‘passed’ – while fully cognizant of the ‘reasons why’….

    Are you anything other than a ‘one-trick pony’?

  48. 48
    Immanentize says:

    @Chris: one of my favorite ‘reals’ of hisstory is that one on the primary beefs Texas separatists had with Mexico was that it require “Spanish only” as the official legal language of all parts of the country. German was language two, English three.

  49. 49
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    One of the shocking things I learned just recently is that Oregon’s state charter excluded black and mixed race people from owning property. Yeah, that wasn’t taught in either my high school or college history classes. Not important I guess/

  50. 50
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    “one trick pony” There’s a word for what you just did there – it’s called “projection”. Look it up.

  51. 51
    DCF says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne:

    No need; I have an M.A. in psychology.

    Here’s a word for you to research: reactivity

    Like some others in these Comments threads, it’s not about the substance but the self….

  52. 52
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    Here’s a simpler concept: GET A FUCKING CLUE.

  53. 53
    Tenar Darell says:

    I felt compelled to point out on Twitter today that 1) it’s Washington’s Birthday & 2) when the Revolution began he owned 200 people when he died in 1799, he owned 317

    You ever get the feeling that while BHM should justifiably honor African Americans contributions, it also acts as a way for White America to forget every single single step which led to the first slave codes, the ignorance that the British actually offered freedom to enslaved men & their families if they fought as soldiers during the revolution & kept the bargain, the terrorism and massacres that took place in the South (& the North) after the 15th amendment was passed, etc. It seems to me it all just gets dropped into a memory hole.

  54. 54
    eemom says:

    There is no end to the volumes of buried ugliness that are the true history of this “shining city on a hill.”

    I happened to learn about this one yesterday — some forgotten victims of the internments of WWII.

  55. 55
    Immanentize says:

    @Cacti: I am not at All comparing my immigrant family history (Slavic) to that of African Americans. But in 1930’s upstate New Yoirk, when my Aunt was born — just home the day before from the hospital ( my father was the oldest and uncle the second) my Granparents receieved a postcard that just said; ” Three is too may. KKK”

    Hate procreates.

  56. 56
    DCF says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne:

    As I said (the CAPS are key)….

    Reactive and unpleasant…self-awareness much?….

    Should I require a ‘clue’, I won’t draw from a dry well….

  57. 57
    moderateindy says:

    If there is any doubt that the Northern part of the US was a lot less racist than the south read Sundown Towns. A book from 10 years ago, or so that was about all the towns in the north in which AA’s had to get out of before sundown, or some settled time. One part talks of a town in rural IL that had a whistle that would blow at 5:30 everyday to mark the time that black folks needed to clear out or else. Long after it was no longer actually a sundown town that whistle still blew every day, but only the older people knew what it meant. Younger folks thought it was some left over tradition from something like a factory that had closed. It’s amazingly easy to whitewash (how perfect a term is that for the subject of the post?) a places history, so the Florida episode surprises not in the least.

  58. 58
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    Democrats haven’t won a majority of White votes since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, but somehow you think the reasons are the banks. Keep fucking that chicken.

  59. 59
    DCF says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne:

    And now you are presumptive (and self-righteous) enough to know the intricate details of my cognitive-emotional processes and beliefs about political causation?

    Take a long look in the mirror, and don’t get back to me….

  60. 60
  61. 61
    Steve in the ATL says:


    And then Tulsa, 1921. Unknown numbers killed–unknown in part because 2 black hospitals burned down, along with 1200 homes.
    Wikipedia casual mention: The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories.

    Was shocked when I first heard of this. The Gap Band is from that neighborhood (Greenwood, Archer, and Pine, or “GAP,” are three streets that border it). All those time we danced to their music at my all-white high school and all-white college and we never knew the meaning of their name or the bloody history behind it.

  62. 62
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel: My first trip to Forsyth county was about 15 years ago for some game or event involving my kids. It was a Sunday afternoon; I heard a commotion and saw a line of 15-20 pickups trucks parading through town, each flying one or more confederate flags in their beds, all the while honking their horns and (this may be an embellishment in my mind) hootin’ and hollerin’.

    Apparently this still goes on. Remember the story from last year about the yahoos who shot up a black person’s birthday party in a park? That was this place and these people.

    To make it just a bit worse, the county seat is the unfortunately named town of Cumming.

  63. 63
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:


    I’ll say one more thing to you, then I’m done with you forever – you’re missing not just the point of this post, but the entire history of western colonialism and slavery that leads to the point of this post that white America has been able to deny because of its privilege. That’s a lot of context that you’re hand waving away to make this critically important information all about you and me. It’s about how we need to recognize reality and work together to learn from history, so we don’t make the mistake of repeating it. By listening to others and not being so dismissive. You know, progress. Capiche, Comrade?

  64. 64
    J R in WV says:


    ETA: I see that @les beat me to this, but here’s the extra data I cribbed…

    There was a big one in Oklahoma, too. Tulsa, 1921. From Wikipedia:

    The Tulsa race riot was a large-scale, racially motivated conflict on May 31 and June 1, 1921, in which a group of whites attacked the black community of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It resulted in the Greenwood District, also known as ‘the Black Wall Street’ and the wealthiest black community in the United States, being burned to the ground.

    During the 16 hours of the assault, more than 800 people were admitted to local white hospitals with injuries (the two black hospitals were burned down), and police arrested and detained more than 6,000 black Greenwood residents at three local facilities.

    An estimated 10,000 blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks composed of 1,256 residences were destroyed by fire, resulting in over $26 million in damages. The official count of the dead by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of black fatalities vary from 55 to about 300.

    I edited footnotes out, since we aren’t at Wikipedia for this quote

    Of course, there are multiple guesses at fatalities, but from the sound of this event, I find any number without 3 or 4 digits preposterous.

    I suspect there are many of these that there is no record of. If you kill everyone, who is going to record the massacre?

    I have a sweet cousin living in Wilmington NC, I’m sure she knows nothing of this. I’m not going to tell her, she is older than I, and has pretty severe health problems, starting with Lupus and going downhill from there. She doesn’t need to know her delightful retirement community has a dark past.

  65. 65
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:

    @SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel:

    I vaguely remember hearing about Ocoee as an “all-white town”

    Sheesh. Should have typed “all-black town” there. Was already thinking about Forsyth County, GA when I wrote that first sentence. Apologies for confusion.

  66. 66
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:



  67. 67
    Misterpuff says:

    @Immanentize: They didn’t want to hear “Free your slaves” in Espanol or English for that matter.

  68. 68
    DCF says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne:

    I’ll say one more thing to you, then I’m done with you forever

    I can only hope….

    You’re arrogant, myopic, condescending and one-dimensional…I wrote my (sociology) undergraduate thesis on ‘European Revolutionary History’, which included (in a central way) the roles of colonialism, racism, and socioeconomic forces, among others….

    Multi-dimensionality is not your forte.

  69. 69
    Cacti says:

    @Bill Murray:

    Thanks. Typo.

  70. 70
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    Oh yes. I’m certainly not trying to claim that all the racists suddenly left Forsyth County, or magically became inclusive, welcoming people after Oprah came to town. I am in FC nearly every day, and I see the bumper stickers and yard signs, and I do vaguely remember the shoot-’em-up incident (although that seems, in memory, as much to do with Georgia’s then-new “guns everywhere” law as with outright racism; they are inextricably linked). All to say that it remains a majorly conservative, even RWNJ, community. But there has been some progress in the past quarter-century, which I welcome.

    (Cumming? I once lived in Flushing, New York. And another time I lived just a few miles from Climax, Michigan. Never resided in Intercourse or Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, though.)

  71. 71
    Cacti says:


    I am not at All comparing my immigrant family history (Slavic) to that of African Americans. But in 1930’s upstate New Yoirk, when my Aunt was born — just home the day before from the hospital ( my father was the oldest and uncle the second) my Granparents receieved a postcard that just said; ” Three is too may. KKK”

    Hate procreates.

    Sad, but not surprising.

    There have been some ugly nativist riots in U.S. history too.

  72. 72
    Marmot says:

    Fer fuck’s sake, a couple dozen yokels got killed in a land grab (I’m simplifying a bit) in Texas and every kid in the nation “remembers” the Alamo. Here, 500 Americans were murdered, and it’s crickets.

    That’s because the early Texans used the Alamo battle as propaganda, and that popularizes a story by nature. Not a lot to rally the troops in “we slaughtered a big bunch of people, lest they get the idea they should vote!”

    And really, even a post about Florida’s horrible history includes Texas hate? Ain’t West Virginia due again?

  73. 73
    Ruckus says:

    @Patricia Kayden:
    This country has a bloody history when it comes to its treatment of minorities.
    As bad as this country is, it isn’t the only one. This is a human condition, one that can be overcome to a large extent but it takes work and desire to make it happen. There are still lots of people who have no desire to make it happen.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    For some reason, the majority of the population is absolutely incapable of taking that step towards adulthood when it comes to the nation.

    Fixed it for you.

  75. 75
    rikyrah says:

    I didn’t learn about Tulsa until I watched Tony Brown’s Journal as an adult.

  76. 76
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    I’ve come to understand that hugging Obama is a true revolutionary act. It makes all the difference for improving race relations in this country. Full Stop. and Hillary is getting it.

    ETA: Fred Hampton was a community organizer from Chicago.

  77. 77
    Aleta says:

    And then, there are the historic black towns that were effectively shut down by cutting off the water supply, eliminating the railroad stop, or seizing the houses and land for a highway project. All kinds of reasons. Some ended up in the hands of whites; some were slowly abandoned for lack of services or other obstructions.

  78. 78
    agorabum says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): also, those Texas rebels were fighting for the right to own slaves, which the Mexican government outlawed

  79. 79
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:

    Deleted because duplicate comment.

  80. 80
    SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel says:


    And then, there are the historic black towns that were effectively shut down by cutting off the water supply

    Two words: Flint, Michigan

  81. 81
    sherparick says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne: Not quite the same date, but there were also a series of incidents like this from 1607 to 1973. Typical was this West Kingston, Rhode Island, an attack henceforth known as the Great Swamp Fight. By evening, the militia had overrun the fort and begun burning the homes and food supplies of the Indian defenders. Although determining numbers of casualties is always difficult, perhaps some 150 Indian inhabitants, many of them women, children, and the elderly, were killed or burned alive. Others escaped across the swamp, though many of them then died from exposure.

    And then there was this little episode since in the 1830s Irish Catholics were not considered white:

    n March 20, 2009, the first human bones were unearthed, consisting of two skulls, six teeth and eighty other bones. The researchers announced their discovery on March 24, 2009.[9]

    “Duffy’s cut…In August 2009, “Finding Dulcinea” reported that the two earliest skulls found both show evidence of blunt-force trauma inflicted peri-mortem, suggesting the possibility that they were murdered.[10] More recent research of the site suggests that a mass murder may have taken place against the Irish workers[11] by local vigilantes fearful that cholera would spread. Analysis of the bones has indicated the possibility that some of the men were killed by projectiles.[12][13][1 ”

    A fine history of murder and mayhem this country has. “…They found Private Benton’s body the cornfield, his body riddled with bullets, his scalp nailed to a post with a note: THIS IS THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS…”

  82. 82
    martian says:

    Was that Pekin, Il that had the whistle? The town was (is? I should ask my cousins) notoriously racist even for Central Illinois well into the 80’s. Had a roommate from there in college and we talked a lot about incidents like the vehicle tire slashing done to the single, black postal worker in town – guy didn’t live there, just worked – the sign that used to be on the edge of town warning black people not to stick around, and so forth. Huge controversy in the early eighties when the high school wanted to change it’s team name from the “Chinks”, people were furious. Comically, a lot of people tried to claim that the racial slur was in fact a coal mining reference and thus part of the local heritage. Then they changed the team name to the “Dragons”. I know for a fact that carloads of teenagers from there used to drive into Peoria to harass and throw rocks at people outside the gay bars, too. Equal opportunity haters.

  83. 83
    glory b says:

    @Steve in the ATL: And, if I remember correctly, the party was for a three year old.

  84. 84
    mike in dc says:

    Our National Conversation on Race: Postponed Since 1607.

  85. 85
    Jordan Rules says:

    Thank you John!

  86. 86
    Miss Bianca says:

    The more I learn about the history of America, the less I feel I know. I never knew this story; and my dad was an American history teacher. Then again, I grew up in the town that invented the term ‘red-lining’, so maybe there was a reason that incident didn’t get taught in my school.

    I was shocked when I did some long-term substitute teaching here in CO and realized that the kids didn’t know anything about the Ludlow Massacre – and a lot of them were miners’ kids! We did a couple days’ work on that one – I was shocked myself to realize how vicious it was.

    I’m starting to think the most radical thing I could do with my life right now would be to go back to school and start teaching history again. I consider it the most radically, tragically, *criminally* mistaught subject in our schools – even more subject to the political whims and proud, willful ignorance of people who know nothing about it as a discipline than science is.

    If we have a tragic flaw as a nation, it is our tendency to willfully mistake symbol for substance. We freak out about burning the flag as if we were burning a body, but the real freedoms that flag symbolizes are things we routinely, righteously deny as many of our citizens as we can for as long as we can – denying even that they are, in fact, citizens, for as long as we can. And we’re fed a bunch of dates and some jingoistic bs to go with them and that’s what we’re taught to call “history” – a combination of chronology and hagiography, and deadly, desperately dull and dis-satisying at that.

  87. 87
    Summer says:

    @J R in WV: Your sweet cousin might know because in 2006 the Raleigh News and Observer did a big series of stories about the Wilmington coup and apologized for its role in covering it up and supporting the leaders.

  88. 88
    ItAintEazy says:

    Yes, we all know reparations for slavery is unworkable because of ::reasons:: but what about reparations paid to the survivors of, say, the Tulsa riots?

    Unfortunately, then we get to the real reason why any type of black reparations is unworkable. I especially like this bit of mental gymnastics:

    Unfortunately, Oklahoma law requires that civil rights lawsuits be filed within two years of an event, and District Judge James O. Ellison noted that the clock began ticking right after the riot. The U.S. Supreme Court said the same.

    Yep, and those black folks had all the rights in the world to sue in 1923, because Civil Rights eliminated racism, or something.

  89. 89
    Joel says:

    @singfoom: the shining city metaphor was misinterpreted. The shining city is such that the whole world can see it. The idea was for Americans to be on their best behavior. Of course even that metaphor fails, because we have forgotten so much of our worst.

  90. 90
    Steve from Antioch says:

    From the wikipedia: ” African-American residents fought back in an evening-long gunfight lasting until as late as 4:45 A.M.,[8] their firearms later found in the ruins after the massacre ended.[7]”

  91. 91
    Steve from Antioch says:

    Cruz may not win the presidency, but he’ll surely win the dirtiest campaign in modern history award.

    I don’t know about that. Clinton’s racial swift boating of Sanders seems worse to me.

  92. 92
    Gvg says:

    There is a limit to how much history most of us can learn so teachers have to pick a representative sample however I have been most struck by local stories and I think the one that hit me the most powerfly was a chance viewed black history month display in the local library some years ago. It was front page photos of the local paper set some time early 20th century of a black man’s lynched body hanging up downtown with prominent citizen’s posing for their picture in the paper. Not masked not hidden not in danger of trial for murder, open. I found that more informative than many words I had read.
    I also came to realize that some of what my father had meant in some stories is that whites who tried to treat blacks fair in business, serve blacks equally, also got murdered. Sometimes no blacks allowed meant get out before they come kill us…..threats were implied. Parents had friends who were beat up or raped doing civil rights work. That’s why open carry is actually intimidation and should be a chargeable offense it’s self. The mobs in these stories seem so random and uncontrollable. Very dangerous.

  93. 93
    grandpa john says:

    @Steve from Antioch: @Steve from Antioch:
    ” All seems infected that the infected spy, As all looks yellow to the jaundiced eye.”
    – Alexander Pope

  94. 94
    Goblue72 says:

    @burnspbesq: Don’t you have an offshore corporate tax shelter to go work on?

  95. 95
    gwangung says:

    @DCF: Son, that’s a mirror you’re lookin’ at.

  96. 96
    Donut says:


    It’s cute that you seem to think that historical writing is somehow divorced from polemicism. What the hell? How can you even begin to back that up? I don’t know what fucking planet you were raised on, but that’s about the dumbest fucking thing I’ve ever read. Said from my perspective as someone who spent plenty of time earning degrees in that discipline. Textbook writers for 100-level survey classes are just about the only people who give a shit about avoiding polemics, and that’s only because they want their royalty checks.

  97. 97
    DCF says:


    There’s more than one note on a piano…open your ears (and your mind)….

    Jimi Hendrix – Room Full Of Mirrors (LA Forum 1970)

  98. 98
    Paul in KY says:

    @moderateindy: Another town in Indiana had it written on the courthouse façade!

  99. 99
    fuckwit says:

    @the Conster, la Citoyenne: I am a full-on Sanders supporter and I co-sign this.

    Racism is our original sin as a country. Most of the kill-the-poor policies of this country since 1964 are dog-whistle racism. c.f. Lee “more abstract” Atwater

  100. 100
    fuckwit says:

    @J R in WV: It’s never Lupus. It’s always racism.

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