August 7, 2014

Symposium on The Elaine Race Massacre: The Racial Conflagration That Changed American History

In the fall of 1919, a brutal race massacre occurred on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River delta, constituting perhaps the most deadly race massacre in the nation’s history, but also resulting in a Supreme Court decision in 1923 that provided legal underpinnings for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The symposium examined both the massacre and its aftermath. (see videos for the symposium below)

A special event, sponsored by Trinity’s Task Force Against Racism and described below, was held at St. Paul’s Chapel on Saturday, September 20th, 2014. There were numerous visitors for the occasion, and a hearty Trinity welcome was experienced by our guests. The symposium was videotaped by Franzi Blome (see note below), an Emmy award winner for her documentary work.

Symposium on The Elaine Race Massacre
The Racial Conflagration That Changed American History

Date: September 20, 2014
Place: St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Wall Street
Location: Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Streets In Lower Manhattan (New York City)
Sponsor: Task Force Against Racism (TFAR), Trinity Wall Street

In the fall of 1919, a race massacre broke out on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta with more than a hundred (possibly hundreds of) African-American deaths, constituting one of the most deadly racial conflicts – perhaps, the most deadly race massacre – in our country’s history. In addition to the sheer number of African-Americans who perished, the significance of Elaine also rests on the legal case that rose out of the massacre (Moore v Dempsey), decided by the Supreme Court in 1923 with Oliver Wendell Holmes writing the majority opinion, which gave life to the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution (equal protection and due process under the law) and created legal underpinnings for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The conflagration and the legal ramifications of Elaine have only begun to receive the attention they deserve.


Robert Whitaker:
author of the definitive work on the Elaine Race Massacre and its aftermath, ON THE LAPS OF GODS.

J. Chester Johnson: author of the four-part article, “Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre,” published by the literary journal, Green Mountains Review, that describes a likely role the author’s grandfather played in the massacre.

Sheila Walker: relative of Albert Giles, one of the Elaine 12, African-American sharecroppers who were convicted of murder in speedy and unfair trials immediately following the massacre and one of those ultimately freed as a result of progressive litigation efforts.

David Solomon: member of a pioneer and prominent family in Phillips County, Arkansas where the massacre occurred and who is working toward the creation of a memorial for the massacre and greater recognition of the event at both the national and state levels.

NOTE: The symposium was videotaped by Franzi Blome, an Emmy award winner for documentary work. Also a credit goes to BlueSpark Collaborative. (By being in attendance, you consented and gave permission to record your image, likeness, and voice in photograph and video, for use in any program, media, or other use of any kind in perpetuity in any manner worldwide with no compensation.)

Part One

Part Two

Part Three


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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: Remembering the Elaine Massacre

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Damaged Heritage: Presentation and Discussion with J. Chester Johnson hosted by The Center for Reconciliation

J. Chester Johnson presents Damaged Heritage to the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, June 28th


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