Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0244
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Full Text of HR0244  100th General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The 1917 East St. Louis Race Riot, also known as
3the East St. Louis Massacres, was one of the worst race riots
4in American history; and
5    WHEREAS, Shortly after America's entry into World War I,
6when black troops were going to fight to make the world safe
7for democracy, American black men, women, and children were
8murdered in the most wanton and barbaric manner in the streets
9of East St. Louis on July 2 and 3, 1917; and
10    WHEREAS, In 1917, East St. Louis was crowded with factories
11and jobs were abundant; but as World War I halted the flow of
12immigration from Eastern Europe and white workers,
13increasingly frustrated by poor wages and working conditions
14were beginning to unionize, factory recruiters started looking
15toward the American South for black workers; by the spring of
161917, about 2,000 African Americans were arriving in East St.
17Louis every week in what became known as the Great Migration;
18as competition for jobs increased, a labor issue became a
19racial issue fraught with animus and rising tensions; and
20    WHEREAS, On May 28, 1917, several blacks were attacked
21after a union rally sparking a night of rioting; the National
22Guard broke it up the next day and stayed in the city until



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1mid-June; the tensions boiled over on July 2, 1917 following a
2confrontation in a black neighborhood that began after white
3men in a car drove by shooting into buildings, houses, and
4churches, and ended with two white police officers dead; and
5    WHEREAS, Mobs of white men, some assisted by women and even
6children, set fires in black neighborhoods, trapping people in
7their homes and shooting those who tried to escape; black
8passengers were pulled from trolley cars and beaten in the
9street; black men were dragged through the streets and hanged
10by light poles along the streets where they remained for days;
11accounts speak of black men, women, and children beaten with
12bludgeons, stoned, shot, drowned, hanged, or burned to death,
13without any effective interference on the part of the police,
14sheriff, or military authorities; and
15    WHEREAS, Media accounts state the National Guard was only
16able to begin to gain control of the crowd on July 3, 1917 when
17"the rioters had exhausted themselves and sated, in a measure,
18their lust for blood"; the first full day of calm was July 4,
191917; and
20    WHEREAS, At the end of the mayhem, nine whites and nearly
21200 blacks were dead, more than 300 buildings were destroyed,
22with fires causing $8,000,000 in 2017 dollars in damage; 6,000
23people fled from their homes; and



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1    WHEREAS, The East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and
2Cultural Initiative will be observing the centennial with
3several activities and events to promote remembrance, healing,
4and awareness of the 1917 Race Riot and its social, political,
5and cultural impact on our nation; and to celebrate the great
6fortitude found in the people of East St. Louis; therefore, be
10acknowledge a moral imperative to never forget the atrocities
11that took place on July 2 and 3, 1917 in East St. Louis; and be
12it further
13    RESOLVED, That we observe May 28, 2017 as a day of
14remembrance in the State of Illinois on the centennial of the
15events that precipitated the 1917 East St. Louis Race Riot; and
16be it further
17    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
18presented Marla Byrd, Commissioner of the East St. Louis 1917
19Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative.