Citation

Riot Prevention: African American Rifle Clubs, Mass Protest, and City Government in World War II St. Louis

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Abstract:

This paper investigates reasons why large scale racial violence did not occur in St. Louis during the Second World War. With a booming defense industry boasting over 400 federal contracts fueling the economy, the Gateway City attracted Black and White workers from the Mississippi Valley and beyond. Local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters official and March on Washington Movement (MOWM) leader Theodore D. McNeal led a vibrant three year campaign fighting a myriad of racial injustices. As could be expected, his diligent fight against racial inequality was resented by some White locals. Residentially segregated and, as one columnist noted, "pock marked with jim crow," this expanding city seemed primed for large scale racial violence. Located across the river from East St. Louis, which was stricken with what one scholar defined as a "Racial Pogrom," the Gateway City never had a widespread wartime race riot like Harlem, Chicago, and Detroit. This paper simply asks, why?

T.D. McNeal and other members of MOWM's St. Louis Unit were arguably the most active and effective branch in the nation. In the aftermath of Executive Order 8802, which banned racial discrimination at all companies holding federal contracts, they used protests and negotiations to help open thousands of jobs for Black workers in civil service and the defense industry. McNeal and several of MOWM's most vocal members also happened to be skilled riflemen whose prowess with firearms was boasted of on the sports page of the city's two Black newspapers, St. Louis Argus and St. Louis American. Though never bluntly stated or rhetorically aggressive by McNeal and his cohort, this paper argues that the threat of armed self defense was a crucial factor in determining why large scale racial violence was prevented in St. Louis.
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Association:
Name: 95th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435109_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Lucander, David. "Riot Prevention: African American Rifle Clubs, Mass Protest, and City Government in World War II St. Louis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435109_index.html>

APA Citation:

Lucander, D. "Riot Prevention: African American Rifle Clubs, Mass Protest, and City Government in World War II St. Louis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina <Not Available>. 2014-11-27 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p435109_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This paper investigates reasons why large scale racial violence did not occur in St. Louis during the Second World War. With a booming defense industry boasting over 400 federal contracts fueling the economy, the Gateway City attracted Black and White workers from the Mississippi Valley and beyond. Local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters official and March on Washington Movement (MOWM) leader Theodore D. McNeal led a vibrant three year campaign fighting a myriad of racial injustices. As could be expected, his diligent fight against racial inequality was resented by some White locals. Residentially segregated and, as one columnist noted, "pock marked with jim crow," this expanding city seemed primed for large scale racial violence. Located across the river from East St. Louis, which was stricken with what one scholar defined as a "Racial Pogrom," the Gateway City never had a widespread wartime race riot like Harlem, Chicago, and Detroit. This paper simply asks, why?

T.D. McNeal and other members of MOWM's St. Louis Unit were arguably the most active and effective branch in the nation. In the aftermath of Executive Order 8802, which banned racial discrimination at all companies holding federal contracts, they used protests and negotiations to help open thousands of jobs for Black workers in civil service and the defense industry. McNeal and several of MOWM's most vocal members also happened to be skilled riflemen whose prowess with firearms was boasted of on the sports page of the city's two Black newspapers, St. Louis Argus and St. Louis American. Though never bluntly stated or rhetorically aggressive by McNeal and his cohort, this paper argues that the threat of armed self defense was a crucial factor in determining why large scale racial violence was prevented in St. Louis.


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