Race riot. Press coverage of urban violence, 1903--1967

Patricia Scott West

Abstract

The twentieth century in the United States was marked by outbursts of urban violence loosely classified as race riots. Beginning in Evansville, Indiana, in 1903, and continuing through Atlanta, Georgia, in 1906; Springfield, Ohio, in 1904, 1906, and 1921; Springfield, Illinois, in 1908; East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1917; Chicago, Illinois, Washington, D.C., and Omaha, Nebraska, in 1919 and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921, communities which were microcosms of American life, were seriously damaged by racial violence. The press as purveyor of information participated in the formation of a social climate in each of these communities prior to the violence. Press coverage was frequently inaccurate, sensational and provocative. The way the press covered racial conflict significantly affected future race relations in a community and contributed to the current understanding of the race riots themselves.