Remembering the Chicago Race Riot of 1919: Claire Hartfield
In July 1919, racial and economic tensions exploded for a week in Chicago, leaving dozens dead. A century later, we talk about lessons learned and yet unlearned with Claire Hartfield, author of A Few Red Drops.
On a hot day in July 1919, five black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the "white" beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations.
This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary accounts as it traces the roots of the explosion that had been building for decades in race relations, politics, business, and clashes of culture.
Claire Hartfield is an attorney who specialized in school desegregation litigation. Recently she has been involved in setting policy and programs in a predominantly African American charter school in Chicago, where she lives. Her grandmother's experiences during the 1919 riot inspired this book.