Many of us trace the Civil Rights movement back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks' arrest in 1955. But the true beginning may have been during the summer of 1919, remembered as "Red Summer," when race riots erupted across the country. At that time, NAACP membership grew exponentially, as black World War I veterans returned from fighting for democracy abroad and demanded freedom at home. Despite President Woodrow Wilson's promise to further human rights in the U.S., the federal government turned a blind eye and did little to even to protect African-Americans from racial violence.
Cameron McWhirter tells the story of those violence filled months in "Red Summer: The Summer of 1919 and the Awakening of Black America."