In historical writing and analysis, PRESENTISM is the introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. I believe presentism is a form of cultural bias, and it creates a distorted understanding of the subject matter. Reading modern notions of morality into the past is committing the error of presentism. I'm well aware that historical accounts are written by people and can be slanted, so I try my hardest to present articles that are fact based and well researched, without interjecting any of my personal opinions.
According to official reports, the Chicago riots began on July 27, 1919, after Eugene Williams, an Black teenager, drowned in Lake Michigan after being struck in the head by a rock thrown by a white man angry that Williams and friends had drifted into the “white side” of the informally segregated beach. Responding police refused to arrest the white man who was identified as having thrown the rock, and instead arrested a black man at the scene. When black onlookers complained they were met with violence, and widespread rioting between Black and white Chicagoans soon spread throughout the city’s black residential areas. Tensions between groups arose in a melee that blew up into days of unrest.
|A horde of young boys run to the corner where a young black man was being beaten during Chicago's race riots of 1919. White youngsters drove out Black residents by stoning their homes during the race riots.|
|The state militia was called in to quell the violence on the south side of Chicago during the 1919 race riots.|
|Police remove the body of a black man killed during the 1919 race riots. The five days of violence were sparked when a black teenager crossed an invisible boundary between the waters of the 29th Street beach, known to be reserved for whites, and the 25th Street beach, known to be reserved for blacks.|
|The state militia hold their ground at 47th and Wentworth Avenue during Chicago's race riot of 1919.|
|The mounted police round up "stray" African-American's and escort them back to a safety zone during the race riots in Chicago in 1919.|
|The state militia was mobilized in Chicago at the height of the 1919 race riot.|
|The state militia march through Chicago during the 1919 race riots.|
|Heavily armed motorcycle and foot policemen stood at the ready for instant transportation to quell the rioting on Chicago's south side on July 30, 1919.|
|Troops gather at 47th Street and Wentworth Avenue during the Chicago race riots.|
|A soldier tells a man to "back up" during the race riots in Chicago in 1919. The soldiers were in place to keep white people in their own district.|
|Many houses in the predominantly white stockyards district were set ablaze during the 1919 race riots. The five days of violence were sparked when a black teenager crossed an invisible boundary between the waters of the 29th Street beach, known to be reserved for whites, and the 25th Street beach, known to be reserved for blacks.|
|People look over the remains of a destroyed building in the Union Stock Yards neighborhood during the 1919 Chicago race riots. Photo dated Aug. 2, 1919.|
|Members of a white mob run with bricks in hand, during the Chicago race riot of 1919. Photographer unknown.|
|A man armed with a machine gun sits at the Cook County Jail|
during the 1919 Chicago race riots.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.
Photographs © copyright Chicago Tribune