Racial Violence in the United States, 1863 to Present

Project Introduction

Initially this project started out with just some of the resources in my personal library. It soon developed a life of its own in drawing me to research more material. The immediate treasure troves which took this project to a far higher level, and cannot go without being singled out, are the works of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and of the Northeastern University School of Law's Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ). The amount of information already collected by the SPLC and CRRJ made my own project so much easier to expand and I thank the good people there for their fine work. Also, The FBI's Cold Case list from the Civil Rights Era (defined as ending on December 31, 1969 for their purposes) has also proved to be an invaluable document for obtaining leads to new information for this site. Any further research in the Civil Rights Era should start with these three resources.

While focusing on, and acknowledging the predominance of, the "black/white" dimension of racial relations within United States history, I will attempt to include other data dealing with racial violence against Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and against those of European descent where available. Violence is violence regardless of whom is the victim or the perpetrator. I will attempt to give the sense which surrounds all incidents of violence based on the facts.

The scope of this site focuses on the post-Civil War time period which I have broken down into four eras. The time frames are rough approximations and not meant to be completely hard dividing lines. The first is the Reconstruction Era spanning roughly from 1863 to 1877. The Lynching Era spanned from 1878 to 1939. The Civil Rights Era lasted from 1940 to 1971. And the period since 1971 I have labeled the Modern Era. The forms of violence in each Era took slightly different forms. They show many continuities, but they also show changes, such as the growing need for secrecy, as the violence became more and more reviled by the vast majority of people.