The Newberry Library, a world-renowned independent research library in Chicago, and its project partners recently announced Chicago 1919: Confronting the Race Riots which is a year-long initiative that will honor the 100-year anniversary of the Chicago race riots. The year of programming will begin Saturday, Feb. 23, at the DuSable Museum of African American History.
The Chicago 1919 project was made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is being coordinated by the Newberry Library in partnership with 13 other Chicago institutions, including the Chicago Urban League which was established in 1916 and supported Chicago’s African American population before, during and after the race riots of 1919.
“If you think about the Chicago Urban League and what our mission has always been, the organization was founded to really help African Americans who were migrating from the rural south to adjust to the city and find jobs and find housing and that was the role that the Chicago Urban League played. We were literally meeting people at the train station when they arrived and directing them and connecting them to services,” said Calmetta Coleman, vice president of External Affairs at the Chicago Urban League.
“The race riots began in the summer of 1919 when Eugene Williams, an African American teenager, drowned after being struck on the head with a rock thrown by a white assailant at a segregated beach. When police arrested an African American man instead of the perpetrator,