NONFICTION

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919

208p. bibliog. notes. photos. Clarion. Jan. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544785137.
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Gr 7 Up—When 17-year-old Eugene Williams was murdered while rafting on the unofficially segregated beaches of Lake Michigan and a white police officer refused to arrest the murderer, Chicago became the site of a deadly race riot. Hartfield backtracks from that moment to explore how turn-of-the-century Chicago was a beacon for both African Americans from the South and European immigrants. However, with the end of World War I, the numerous job opportunities turned scarce and white gang activity against black residents increased. Powerful stories of resistance and inspiring profiles of John Jones, Ida B. Wells, and others who created libraries, hospitals, The Chicago Defender, and other initiatives balance the narratives of discrimination and violence. The stoning of Williams and the riots that followed are not the primary focus; rather, Chicago's history as a destination in post-Reconstruction era United States, its labor movement, the Great Migration, and how all these factors were the underlying elements for the riots make up the bulk of the book. Under 200 pages, this is a relatively slim but powerful account of early 20th-century U.S. history. A plentiful amount of clear and intriguing photography, as well as primary source materials, is included. Back matter includes research citations, an extensive bibliography, and picture credits.
VERDICT A worthy and gripping account of early 20th-century African American, immigrant, and labor history framed by the haunting murder of a young black man.

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