In the 1910s, half a million African Americans moved from the impoverished rural South to industrial
cities in the North in search of jobs and freedom from Jim Crow laws. Northern whites responded with
rage, attacking blacks in the streets and laying waste to black neighborhoods. In East St. Louis, Illinois,
corrupt city officials and industrialists lured blacks to the North to replace striking white laborers. This
tinderbox erupted on July 2, 1917 into one of the bloodiest American race riots. St. Louis journalist Harper
Barnes has written the first full account of this dramatic turning point in American history.
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