In the Media
1. Group plans to commemorate, discuss 1866 Memphis race riot-(Memphis Commercial Appeal)
2. Memphian faces her own family’s history, helps us face ours-(Memphis Commercial Appeal)
3. State historical marker to commemorate 1866 Memphis race riot/massacre-Memphis Commercial Appeal
5. U of M’s Johnson: “Racism never went away; We elected not to see it”-(Memphis Commercial Appeal)
6. Time to tell the truth: It was a massacre, not just a riot (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
7. The ‘Memphis massacre’ is remembered at Rhodes and more (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
9. ‘Memphis Massacre’ remembered on 150th anniversary of racial tragedy (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
10. Historian: “It was both a massacre and a riot” (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
11. Author Stephen V. Ash to speak at Rhodes (Memphis Flyer)
12. 1866 Massacre Author Says Riot Has Important Lessons (The Daily News)
The Memphis Massacre sometimes referred to as the Memphis riots of 1866
The Memphis riots of 1866 were the violent events that occurred from May 1 to 3, 1866 in Memphis, Tennessee. The racial violence was ignited by political, social and racial tensions following the American Civil War, in the early stages of Reconstruction. After a shooting altercation between white policemen and black soldiers recently mustered out of the Union Army, mobs of white civilians and policemen rampaged through black neighborhoods and the houses of freedmen, attacking and killing men, women and children.
Federal troops were sent to quell the violence and peace was restored on the third day. A subsequent report by a jointCongressional Committee detailed the carnage, with blacks suffering most of the injuries and deaths: 46 blacks and 2 whites were killed, 75 blacks injured, over 100 black persons robbed, 5 black women raped, and 91 homes, 4 churches and 8 schools burned in the black community. Modern estimates place property losses at over $100,000, also suffered mostly by blacks. Many blacks fled the city permanently; by 1870, their population had fallen by one quarter compared to 1865.
Public attention following the riots and reports of the atrocities, together with the New Orleans riot in July, strengthened the case made by Radical Republicans in U.S. Congress. The events influenced passage of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution to grant full citizenship to freedmen, as well as passage of the Reconstruction Act to establish military districts and oversight in certain states.
Investigation of the riot suggested specific causes related to competition for housing, work and social space between Irish immigrants and their descendants, and the freedmen. The white gentry also sought to drive freedpeople out of Memphis and back onto plantations where their labor could be exploited. Through violent terrorism, the white community at large sought to force blacks to respect white supremacy as the time of fully legal slavery was nearing its end.
Antonio Neal was asked to create a video to help tell the story of the Memphis Massacre. Antonio was inspired to write this song and perform it for the video. The video will inspire you as his little girl pays tribute to the lives lost on May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of 1866.