in Their Eyes
The Elaine Race Massacres
tragedy of the Elaine massacres is not only that they occurred
but that we have ignored them.
Association of State and Local History Award 2003
late September 1919, black sharecroppers met to protest
unfair settlements for their cotton crops from white plantation
owners. Local law enforcement broke up the union's meeting,
and the next day a thousand white men from the Deltaand
troops of the U.S. Army itselfconverged on Phillips
County, Arkansas, to "put down" the black sharecroppers'
"insurrection." In riveting, novelistic prose,
writer and Delta native Grif Stockley considers the evidence
and tells the full story of this incident for the first
time, concluding that black people were murdered in Elaine
by white mobs and federal soldiers. Five white men died
as a result of the conflict; contemporary estimates of African
American deaths ranged from 20 to an even more horrifying
856. White officials jailed hundreds of black workers, torturing
some of them. Twelve black men were charged with first-degree
murder. Their legal battles lasted six years, but national
and local silence has persisted much longer.
takes on this silence and shows that it resulted from sustained
official efforts to convince the public that only blacks
who had resisted lawful authority were killed. He shows
too that it is part of a larger silence in which the fear
and terror that were the daily staples of the African American
experience have been summed up all too easily in the term
"Jim Crow" in a failure to fully confront the
anguish of the period.
in Their Eyes is a relentless examination of one of
the bloodiest American racial repressions of the 20th century.
In retelling the story of the Elaine massacres of 1919 with
moral fervor and canny reinterpretation of sources, Grif
Stockley has written a study of collective barbarism in
real time that deepens our knowledge of the psychodynamics
of white supremacy."
Levering Lewis, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author of
W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 18681919
(1994) and W. E. B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and
the American Century, 19191963 (2001)
researched and compellingly argued, Blood in Their Eyes
is the definitive history of the Elaine, Arkansas, massacre
. . . [which] was the bloodiest race war of the Red Summer
of 1919. Compounding the violence by rampaging white mobs
and army troops was the torture of black survivors. Grif
Stockley, a lawyer, has told the whole story, and in doing
so, he has deeply enriched our understanding not only of
America's violently racist past, but also of the challenges
which that history poses for the future."
M. Tuttle Jr., author of Daddy's Gone to War: The Second
World War in the Lives of America's Children (1993)
and Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919
(2nd ed., 1996).
Stockley is a lawyer, the author of five murder
mysteries (Expert Testimony, Probable Cause, Religious
Conviction, Illegal Motion, and Blind Judgment,
all from Simon & Schuster), and a longtime scholar of
the Elaine race riots. His new novel, Salted with Fire,
will appear in June 2001.
6" x 9", 272 pages
$34.95 cloth, 978-1-55728-717-5
$22.50 paper, 978-1-55728-772-4