Racial Violence in the United States, 1863 to Present

The Civil Rights Era (1940-1971)

Table I. Violence Against Supporters of Civil Rights

Note: The tables do include documented attempts of murder that did not succeed, and assaults. Under "Nature of Incident/Cause of Death," if the table says "killed," that means the cause of death is unknown though the person did die. If a description is present the person died as a result of injuries inflicted in that manner, unless a qualifier is present which states that they survived.

* = This record is not included in the charts/data section as it was added after that had been initially made. Eventually they will be updated when the amount of new records justifies it.

M = Persons marked as such are some of the most important people in Civil Rights History chronicled at the Civil Rights Memorial located across the street from the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama. The Memorial was designed by Maya Lin who also designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Forty "martyrs" to the cause were designated in this category

F = Persons marked as such are part of "The Forgotten," a group of 74 people also memorialized at the Civil Rights Memorial, but they were not included in the Martyrs category as insufficient evidence existed to include them at the time of the Memorial's dedication in 1989.

U = Persons marked as such are on the FBI's list of 125 cold cases which they were investigating as possibly racially-motivated murders that took place before Jan. 1, 1970. They undertook these investigations in response to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007. Being on the list does not guarantee that these cases were racially-motivated crime, but there is at least some evidence and/or strong suspicion of such.

1 = The two sources differ slightly in their accounts. Neither gives a cause of death. Honey claims only that they were killed in their jail cells, while Bartley claims the prisoners were trying to escape.

2 = This incident, occurring during a Civil Rights demonstration, is most likely an accident in my opinion, but given its context and having no way to judge the driver of the bulldozer's motive I have included it as possibly motivated against the Civil Rights Movement. In any case, whether or not the Rev. died at the hands of someone attempting to deny Civil Rights, he did die in the course of trying to uphold them.

3 = Two bombs were at homes of African-Americans, one at an African-American-owned business, and two at the homes of "white" men who stated their opposition to violence by the Klan.

4 = Rev. Reeb was clubbed on March 9, and died on March 11th.

5 = Willie Brewster was shot on July 15th, and died on July 18th.


1) Free at Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle. Edited by Sara Bullard, Julian Bond, J. Richard Cohen, and Steve Fiffer. Published by the Civil Rights Education Project of the The Southern Poverty Law Center. No Date of publication is listed.

2) Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North. Thomas J. Sugrue. Random House. 2008.

3) Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi. John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1995.

4) Carry Me Home Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. Diane McWhorter. Touchstone. 2001.

5) Assassination and Political Violence: A Staff Report to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence . Edited by James F. Kirkham, Sheldon Levy, William J. Crotty. Praeger Publishers. 1970.

6) The New South 1945-1980:The Story of the South's Modernization. Numan V. Bartley. Louisiana State University Press. 1995.

7) An American Insurrection: The Battle of Oxford, Mississippi, 1962. William Doyle. Doubleday, 2001.

8) Mississippi: The Closed Society. James W. Silver. Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc. 1964.

9) Southern Labor and Black Civil Rights:Organizing Memphis Workers. Michael K. Honey. University of Illinois Press. 1993.

10) http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/civil-rights-martyrs The Southern Poverty Law Center.

11) http://www.splcenter.org/civil-rights-memorial/the-forgotten The Southern Poverty Law Center.

12) http://nuweb9.neu.edu/civilrights/cold-cases/ The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project of Northeastern University School of Law.

13) The Attorney General's Fourth Annual Report to Congress Pursuant to the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007. October 2012.

14) St. Augustine Times November 24, 1949

15) http://www.nbbd.com/godo/moore/index.html ; http://www.pbs.org/harrymoore/harry/mbio.html ; http://www.brevardcounty.us/ParksRecreation/North/MooreMemorial/Home

16) Before the Mayflower: A History of the Negro in America, 1619-1964. Lerone Bennett, Jr. Penguin Books. 1966.

17) Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1982. Manning Marable. University Press of Mississippi. 1984.

18) Lynching Beyond Dixie: American Mob Violence Outside the South. Edited by Michael J. Pfeifer. University of Illinois Press. 2013.

19) A Social History of Racial Violence. Edited by Allen D. Grimshaw. Transaction Publishers. 2009. (Originally 1969.)

20) Lynching in America: A History in Documents. Edited by Christopher Waldrep. New York University Press. 2006.

21) "'Slangin' Rocks...Palestinian Style': Dispatches from the Occupied Zones of North America" in Police Brutality: An Anthology. Edited by Jill Nelson. W.W. Norton & Co. 2000.

22) "Nation Under Siege: Elijah Muhammad, the FBI, and Police-State Culture in Chicago" in Police Brutality: An Anthology. Edited by Jill Nelson. W.W. Norton & Co. 2000.

23) Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans fromthe Civil War to World War II. Douglas A. Blackmon. Doubleday. 2008.

24) The Shadow of Slavery: Peonage in the South, 1901-1969. Pete Daniel. University of Illinois Press. 1972.

25) Lynching in North Carolina: A History, 1865-1941. Vann R. Newkirk. McFarland & Company, Inc. 2009.

26) Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party. Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr. University of California Press. 2013.

27) From Slave Abuse to Hate Crime: The Criminalization of Racial Violence in American History. Ely Aaronson. Cambridge University Press. 2014.

28) The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson. Vintage Books. 2010.

29) 100 Years of Lynching. Ralph Ginzburg. Black Classic Press. 1988.

30) Encyclopedia of American Race Riots. Edited by Walter Rucker and James Nathaniel Upton. Greenwood Press. 2007.

31) Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America. Kathleen Belew. Harvard University Press. 2018.

32) The Color of Law: The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Richard Rothstein. Liveright Publishing Company. 2017.

33) Cultures of Violence: Racial violence and the origins of segregation in South Africa and the American South. Ivan Evans. Manchester University Press. 2009.