By Coshandra Dillard
From May through October of 1919, what is now known as Red Summer, cities and some rural towns across the country experienced a violent rash of race riots resulting in hundreds of deaths. This included Longview.
Like in the Slocum Massacre, the riots stemmed from attacks on African American communities by white mobs, primarily due to racial resentment and/or in response to rumors of assaults being planned by black men.
The most notable violence happened in Chicago, Washington D.C. and in Elaine, Ark. , where black residents fought back, resulting in the deaths of white citizens as well.
Longview was a cotton and lumbering community with a population of about 5,700 at the time. Nearly one-third of the population was black.
According to “Race and Racism in the United States: An Encyclopedia of the American Mosaic,” racial tension was already high because prominent black leaders, Samuel L. Jones and Dr. Calvin P. Davis, urged black farmers to avoid local white cotton brokers and instead sell directly to buyers in Galveston.
In addition, an article in the July 10 issue of the Chicago Defender, described the death of Lemuel Walters, of Longview, who had been in an interracial relationship with a white woman.
By that Friday morning, County Judge E. M. Bramlette and Sheriff D. S. Meredith called Gov. William P. Hobby, who ordered Texas Rangers to go to Longview and placed Texas National Guard units in East Texas on alert.