1919 Chicago race riots commemorated through bike ride, Eugene Williams headstone unveiling in Alsip

CHICAGO (WLS) – Events are scheduled for Saturday to commemorate a dark period in Chicago history – the Racing Riots of 1919.

It’s called “Red Summer”.

This is the third year the organizers have organized an event to remember the racing riots, this time 102 years later. The aim is to educate the public about that violence to eliminate racism.

Those race riots in Chicago are known to be the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the city.

In the summer of 1919, an African-American teenager crossed a whites-only section of a southern beach.

MORE: Chicago race riots of 1919 leave 38 dead, 2 years before Tulsa massacre

The white man threw rocks at the teenager, and he drowned, sparking a weeklong riot that left 38 dead.

Organizers say Saturday’s 5.5-mile bike ride will explore this history and also talk about Chicago’s residential segregation and black resilience.

Peter Cole, a history professor at Western Illinois University and founder of the 1919 Riot Commemoration Project, said: “Denying, not remembering, ignoring the past has not led to an egalitarian society. We claim to believe. “So if you want to make the same mistakes and have the same results, we can do it. We’ve been doing it for 101 years. If you really want to make the city and the country a place to be. that we’re all really equal, and we all have justice, we have to do something different.”

Dozens of cyclists passed through Chicago’s South Side on Saturday morning.

“It’s just sad,” said participant Mary Garnett. “And then it spilled over into neighboring areas.”

Cole elaborated further.

“A black child was killed for swimming in a lake. It was simply crossing an invisible boundary that it didn’t know existed in segregated Lake Michigan,” he said. “After 1919, the city’s elite essentially doubled down on racism and discrimination.”

Alice Li, a participant, said she was new to the city.

“I think it’s important to learn its history, especially in the context of what’s happened and what’s going on right now in our environment, and I also love cycling so it’s perfect,” she said.

Darius Lawrence, the driving police chief, said he is still learning about the history and what it means to his culture and the city at large.

“To know where we come from, to know that we still have some change happening, we need to be part of it as a group, collectively, to make that change happen. ,” he said.

Separately, Saturday afternoon in Alsip will have a stone unveiled to Eugene Williams, the teenager whose death sparked those riots more than a century ago.

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https://abc7chicago.com/1919-chicago-race-riots-red-summer-eugene-williams-headstone/10907388/ | 1919 Chicago race riots commemorated through bike ride, Eugene Williams headstone unveiling in Alsip

Huynh Nguyen

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