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


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


J. Chester Johnson Beside the Display of His Iconic Poem "St. Paul's Chapel"

J. Chester Johnson Reads Poetry at Deborah Danner's Memorial

J. Chester Johnson Reads His Poem, "St. Paul's Chapel," at the Calling of the Names Ceremony 15 Years After 9/11

J. Chester Johnson Is Featured In NBC New York Article

J. Chester Johnson Appeared at the Cornelia St. Café on Sunday, June 26th

J. Chester Johnson read as part of FOUR WAY BOOKS AND FRIENDS Program at NYU Bookstore

J. Chester Johnson at Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church, NYC, February 25th, 2016

J. Chester Johnson Moderator for Reading/Discussion by Reginald Dwayne Betts at Trinity Wall Street, NYC

Presentation at 9/11 Tribute Center (Ground Zero in New York City), Tuesday, December 15, 2015


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