“A reminder of what human beings can be capable of”: a journey to the sites of America’s forgotten racial massacres | Race


ILast year, filmmaker Bayeté Ross Smith traveled across the country, trying to find the exact places where black people were brutally attacked and killed a century ago. He wanted to make films that showed his viewers that they were living on top of a story of racial violence that was rarely taught or discussed.

He began by studying images of white crowds scaling buildings, destroying neighborhoods, and killing black people – all part of a white backlash to the progress black Americans made after World War I. Incidents of racial terror were so numerous in the summer of 1919 that it was given a name: Red Summer.

The images seem to be from another era. But when Smith saw footage of the Capitol Uprising in January 2021, he couldn’t help but notice the parallels between those images and the ones he was studying.

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