Image Courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission
This Literary Work Written by J. Chester Johnson.
Performance Was Held At Trinity Church (Wall Street and Broadway in downtown Manhattan):
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH.
Many consider the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919 to be the single most violent attack against African-Americans in our country’s history – certainly over the period from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. The massacre occurred on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta over the course of several days in late September-early October, 1919, when more than a hundred and possibly hundreds of African-Americans were killed by white posses and federal troops in response to an attempt by the local black sharecroppers to unionize. Out of the massacre, a legal case arose, Moore v. Dempsey, involving six sharecroppers convicted of murder in unfair and rapid trials immediately following the massacre; in 1923, the U. S. Supreme Court decided on behalf of the sharecroppers to expand, for the first time, the federal government’s role in equal protection under the law for all citizens of the nation, pursuant to the 14th amendment. This Supreme Court precedent proved monumental for the civil rights movement and for future decisions that relied on the doctrine of equal protection under the law.
The persona voices heard at the performance included, among others, victims of the massacre, members of the Supreme Court, and the genuine American hero, Scipio Africanus Jones, the African-American lawyer from Little Rock who represented the sharecroppers.
Prose, poetry, music, dance, and visual arts were part of the performance, including Broadway performers.