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Position Paper for Knoxville’s Red Summer 1919

Most historical events have brutal and bleak perspectives, long-lasting cruelties, and bitter impacts. Similar episodes have been depicted in the two videos under consideration, i.e., Knoxville’s Red Summer 1919(Knoxville’s Red Summer) and Race Riot in Columbia, Tennessee, Feb. 25-27: Mink Slide(Race Riot in Columbia, Tennessee February 25-27 1946). Both videos accurately depict racial riots and insurrections that sprouted in different historical decades in Tennessee. These two incidents have numerous differences concerning key personals, multiple circumstances and respective actions with the commonality of cruelty and barbarism. Political awareness, legal acceptance and rights demands were some standard features on a broad base but had many differences in the execution of all these aspects. However, this position paper will compare these two incidents in Tennessee concerning critical people involved, various circumstances and justification of their actions.

The main difference between the two incidents belongs to the time frame. The incident depicted in Knoxville’s Red Summer 1919 occurred after World War I, while the incident elaborated in Race Riot in Columbia, Tennessee, Feb. 25-27: Mink Slide had its vicinity after World War II. The Knoxville riot of 1919 emerged from the massive mob searching Maurice Mays from the county jail for accused of white women murder. However, race riots in 1946 started from a fight between two family members and a storekeeper concerning selling a radio device. The white mob initiated such riots even after declaring the family members who indulged in the fight guilty. As a protest, if it could be called, the civilian mob armed themselves and tried to shoot at street lights for massive violence. Such violence led to racial incidents in large part of the city.

In the 1919 summer riots, the black residents had to leave Knoxville in helplessness and riots prolonged in massive areas in the following years. The looting of the county jail added fuel to the mob’s courage to start gun battles to kill blacks. Meanwhile, the news of riots spread among nearby areas and continued towards other cities. However, in the 1946b riots, the police intervened after hearing the news of gunshots at street lights and African Americans. In this context, four police officials got injured that night. Similarly, In the riots of 1919, the national guard took control of the area and temporarily arrested about two hundred white men. However, after the burst of the 1946 riots, three black men were killed and investigated for starting to fire in the county. Two of them snatched guns from investigating officials and killed police officers. Two black men were killed in cross-firing, and such news spread in the city like fire in the jungle.

Moreover, in 1919, the riots in Tennessee ended after a few weeks. However, the African American leaders in multiple cities criticized the racial riots and stated that Knoxville’s white people had no representation to ignite such massive riots. At the same time, the local black leaders did not label these riots as racial ones. Instead, it was claimed from their side that these riots were made racial by culprit elements. Contrary to that, after the end of the 1946 riots, several black men were charged guilty of shooting white police officers. After that, it was proved that only two blacks were guilty of this concern, and the remaining black men were released. The white community felt embarrassed about such a release and wished to charge them guilty. The black men were killed at large.

In a nutshell, It can deduce that the riots in 1946 in Tennessee resulted in more havoc on the black community. They were tortured, smashed and killed by both the police officials and the white community. Even after being released from the court, the black community was considered an igniting agent regarding these riots. Compared to these, the 1919 riots spread large, but the national guards did not lethally kill the black community.

Work Cited

Knoxville’s Red Summer: The Riot of 1919. Directed by Black in Appalachia, 2019. YouTube,

Race Riot in Columbia, Tennessee February 25-27 1946: Mink Slide Black Community. Directed by iskosi umfundisi, 2018. YouTube,



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