Posts from February 2013

February 22, 2013

Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre – Four Parts (Consolidated)

As a result of numerous requests to repost this article out of the site’s Archives, we have given renewed emphasis to Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre on this BLOG. Immediately below are excerpts from the notes of the Green Mountains Review editors set forth as an introduction at the time of the article’s publication; those excerpts will be followed by the entirety of the article, beginning with the Preface – just click on the link below at the appropriate location to link to the consolidated Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre.


– Published on Green Mountains Review

Green Mountains Review Online presented in four installments J. Chester Johnson’s groundbreaking essay “Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre,” which probes deeply into one of America’s deadliest and least discussed race massacres–an event that also directly led to a more progressive U.S. Supreme Court judgment toward equal protection and thus helped usher in the civil rights movement. Driving Johnson’s exhaustive research is a personal connection to the massacre and its mysterious circumstances that bring to the fore those powerful emotional questions that lie always beyond the larger historical ones.
–The Editors

Across the sweeping canvas of American history, two markers–inherited and ineluctable–from the Elaine Race Massacre of 1919 in Phillips County, Arkansas of the Mississippi River Delta invite a degree of attention to the episode yet to be received from public consciousness. First, the sheer number of persons who died in the massacre–-more particularly, the countless African-Americans who perished-–would certainly cause this massacre to be judged one of the most deadly racial conflicts–-perhaps, the most deadly racial conflagration-–in the history of the nation. Second, the wellspring of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s drew constantly from the 1923 U. S. Supreme Court’s decision in Moore v. Dempsey that emerged out of the legal proceedings in Phillips County against African-American defendants, charged with the murders of whites allegedly committed during the massacre. The ruling in Moore v. Dempsey broke a long chain of Supreme Court decisions brutally adverse to the safety and rights of African-Americans.

Two heroes whose individual backgrounds could not have been more dissimilar share in this American saga. Most apparent, Scipio Africanus Jones, African-American lawyer, who started as a laborer in the Arkansas fields to become a 20th century Moses, climbed, through brilliance and tenacity, to forensic heights to free the black sharecroppers, unjustly found guilty of crimes in the aftermath of the massacre, and, at the same time, developed the legal strategy that, ultimately, through the intervention of the U. S. Supreme Court, altered the application of the 14th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution to protect the individual rights of and due process for American citizens. The other hero, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Boston patrician and distinguished jurist, who wrote the majority opinion for Moore v. Dempsey, not only opened the door to freedom for wrongfully convicted Arkansas sharecroppers, but also articulated a new judicial precedent and principle under which the federal government would more forcefully thereafter engage in the constitutional protection of its citizens.

Read full article on Green Mountains Review

Published on Green Mountains Review


Poem by J. Chester Johnson Embedded in James DeWoody Art for the Darlington Hall Exhibition at The Church of the Heavenly Rest, NYC

J. Chester Johnson Presented At The Troubadour And At Grosvenor Chapel.

J. Chester Johnson Presents on Auden, the Psalms, and Me in London and in Oxford

A Review of Auden, the Psalms, and Me – Posted On The Florida Diocese of the Episcopal Church Website

The Magazine, Talisman, Recently Reviewed Auden, The Psalms, And Me.

Review of Presentation by J. Chester Johnson on His Two Recent Books, Now And Then: Selected Longer Poems and Auden, the Psalms, and Me, held at The Culture Center, NYC

American Book Review Features Poetry of J. Chester Johnson

J. Chester Johnson Makes Three Presentations As McMichael Lecturer – Fayetteville, Arkansas

J. Chester Johnson Is Guest for National Radio Interviews on “Ed Tyll Show” - 1/11/18

J. Chester Johnson Presenting His Two Newest Books at Poet's House

Video for Auden, the Psalms, and Me authored by J. Chester Johnson

J. Chester Johnson Interviewed on the Televised ‘In The Arena’ Program

Save the Dates!
Upcoming Events Related To My Two Books Published In 2017

Distinguished Alumnus J. Chester Johnson spoke on April 26th & 27th, 2017 at the University of Arkansas

Reflection and Reconciliation: The Elaine Race Massacre – Delta Cultural Center, 141 Cherry Street, Helena, Arkansas on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017


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