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Policing Racial Violence: 1919 and Beyond

Tuesday, October 15

In 1919, what role did the police play in calming the riots, or fueling them? How did various communities view the police in 1919? What has changed today? Join us for a discussion at the Chicago History Museum about law enforcement and the nature of racial violence from 1919 to the present. Nancy Villafranca, CHM’s director of education moderates this dynamic conversation featuring:

  • Robin Robinson, director of restorative justice strategies at the Chicago Police Department
  • Simon Balto, assistant professor of history at the University of Iowa and author of Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power
  • Andy Clarno, associate professor of sociology and African American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Free, RSVP required

About Chicago 1919: Confronting the Race Riots

The Chicago 1919 Race Riots precipitated the most violent week in Chicago history. They were sparked by the murder of Eugene Williams, an African American teenager stoned and drowned by a white man for floating his raft over an invisible line into a whites-only South Side beach. The police refused to arrest the white perpetrator, and the city erupted in arson, looting, and thirty-eight deaths (23 black, 15 white) until the National Guard was called to restore order. The riots inflicted lasting scars on the city, still visible in the lines of segregation throughout the city’s built environment, its schools, and its selective policing.

Free, RSVP required


Chicago 1919: Confronting the Race Riots is a year-long initiative to heighten the 1919 Chicago race riots in the city’s collective memory, engaging Chicagoans in public conversations about the legacy of the most violent week in Chicago history. Follow the link above to learn about the series of events, explore digital resources, and more. This project is funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities “Community Conversations” grant, and is being coordinated by the Newberry Library in partnership with Chicago History Museum and 12 other Chicago institutions. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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A large crowd at the 29th Street Beach after Eugene Williams was stoned by a group of white men, Chicago, July 27, 1919. ICHi-030315

The Details



15 th

7:00–8:30 p.m.

Event Location

Chicago History Museum

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories