Discuss white mob violence against African Americans during the interwar period (specifically, 1917-1923), include the Rosewood incident in Florida. What are the common elements? What are the key differences? Why are these incidents more common during this time period?
The interwar period of America less racial violence towards the beginning of the Second World War (Racial Violence in…). Go back a few years from than and this nation was practically bathed with the blood of innocents killed just because they were different. Yet some people saw these innocents as a threat to their life- style which was simply too much to deem. The obsession with white domination was the main cause for white mob violence during the interwar period but individual instances varied in their motives and the methods of expressing hatred of African Americans.
The thought of white supremacy has been instigated in American History as early as colonial times. Colonists used laws that restricted slaves and slave owners alike. Slave owners were forced by the laws to insist on the slave codes. People of colonial times used slave patrols to put the fear of slave rebellions to rest by watching slaves (Jong 220). These slave patrollers were the first policemen, but unlike the honorable policemen of today, theses individuals were corrupt and took justice in their own hands (Waldrep and Bellesiles 283). Patrollers not only targeted slaves but also free blacks. These people could be harassed at any time the patrollers pleased. Patrollers had the right to abuse and humiliate slaves along with other innocent people (Jong 221).
Southern whites were desperate to keep their rule over African Americans even after slavery had been outlawed in the rest of the nation (Jong 221). Whites used the executions of blacks, whether they were legal or not, as way to show their dominance over the race and their own immunity to the law (Vandiver 10). During the time of Reconstruction in the south slavery was made illegal, but white southerners found a way to con the freed slave from his or her freedom (Shapiro 5). After becoming free most blacks were landless while others found their way out of poverty. For those who were not able to surpass the poverty line they were left under the control of the whites, where their movements and culture were once again in control of the whites (Grimm and Thomas 713).
During the Reconstruction era blacks wanted to voice their opinion, and in doing so enraged white supremacist. Most African Americans tried to share their opinions in the most peaceful of ways, but just the fact that they attempted share their opinion was enough for white supremacist to act. All in all whites did not stand for any advancement of the black culture, especially when it gave their former slaves power (Shapiro 6). Whites took any means necessary whether they were fraud or terror tactics to keep blacks from voting (Vandal 541). In attempt to prevent future advancement of African Americans it was common for white mobs to burn black school and harass, even at times kill, the teachers that worked there. By targeting schools blacks not only were denied an education but also the realization of the American Dream and self- advancement. By failing to receive these important lessons blacks once again fell into the hands of whites for not understanding the importance of economics (Shapiro 9-10).
There are numerous explanations for the racial violence seen throughout American history, the main reason being the fear of the white culture losing its dominance. In the eyes of white supremacists violence was the only way to ensure that the dominance of their race remains (Markovitz xvi). Violence was often used as a way to keep the black person who dare question the rules of white culture in line (Racial Violence… 225). Violence also occurred when the threat that there may be some interracial competition for employment The Race Riots…). Aggression towards blacks can also be...
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