Reconstruction Period Research Forum
Red Summer of 1919
A Killing Season: 'Red Summer' of 1919
By Agnes Kane Callum
A dreadful wave of lynching and anti-Negro violence permeated the very fiber of America during the year 1919. Lynching was so pervasive that James Weldon Johnson labeled it the "Red Summer," of 1919. During the "Red Summer," 76 blacks were reported lynched and 26 race riots took place. One of the worst riots took place in the nation's capital, almost within sight of the White House Six blacks were killed and 100 wounded.
This inhumane treatment was so blatant that civic and religious organizations began to speak out against lawless groups. One of the main opponents of lynching was the Federated Black Catholics under the guidance of Thomas Wyatt Turner. Turner was a supporter of civil rights and a devout Catholic born in Charles County, Maryland, Turner was a graduate of Howard University. Before he accepted the teaching position at Howard, he was the secretary of Baltimore's NAACP.
In September 1919, after the fervor of the "Red Summer" had abated, the U.S. Bishops had a meeting on the campus of Catholic University in Washington, D.C. A committee of 15 eventually became the Federated Colored Catholics. They submitted a statement to the bishops requesting an increase in black priest vocations and to halt racism in the Catholic church. They also requested that the church be more vocal against the lynching of Negroes.