- St. Paul's Chapel
The Racial Conflagration That Changed American History
In the fall of 1919, a race massacre broke out on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta with more than a hundred African-American deaths, constituting one of the most deadly racial conflicts 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, 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.
Participants include 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.
Sponsored by Task Force Against Racism.