Massacre of Blacks By Whites in Elaine Arkansas in 1919 – A Lesson from History

Ephesians 4:26-28 says:

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

Matthew 6:14-15 says:

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

This article is about the “Elaine Massacre” that occurred in Elaine (Phillips County) Arkansas in 1919.

On September 30, 1919, Blacks in my native State of Arkansas gathered to discuss actions to obtain better payment for their work. This along with other events of that time led to the “Elaine Massacre” where a number of Blacks were killed by Whites.  The number of Blacks killed has been reported as ranging in the 100’s.  It is said that five Whites were killed during this time.  Also, it is reported that over 100 Blacks were indicted for their participation in the events but no Whites were arrested.  But one should be mindful there are different historical accounts of the number of Blacks and Whites killed and arrested.

The Black people of Elaine Arkansas were apparently willing to work.  They simply wanted to be paid fair wages for their work.  Much of today’s racial outcry on the part of some Black Americans is rooted in this same desire and associated issues of systemic/long-term injustice.

Let us as Blacks be angry but let us sin not.  Let us as Blacks always be non-violent. Let us be angry at injustices perpetrated in this nation since its founding.  Let us recognize that progress has been made; but, much work has yet to be done.

Let us hold out the belief that perhaps not all Whites in Elaine of that day participated nor wanted the Massacre to happen.  This is most probably true given that even today not all Whites are against Black progress in our nation.  Let us also be mindful there has always been people of all races (Black, White, etc.) who have not done the right thing in every situation.  That is true even today.  Let us as Blacks be angry at Blacks who to this day have an attitude of Black Supremacy or Black Privilege.  Let us as Blacks let our anger be used to work with Whites to achieve greater equity for all races in America.

Let Whites also be angry but sin not.  Let Whites always be non-violent. Let Whites be angry at those Whites who implemented American Slavery and/or supported it.  Let them be angry at those Whites who even to this day have an attitude of White Supremacy or White Privilege.  Let them be angry at Blacks who to this day have an attitude of Black Supremacy or Black Privilege.  But let that anger be used to work with Blacks to achieve greater equity for all races in America.

It is important that we as a nation continue to seek to resolve issues of racial injustice, injustices born out of decisions made during the founding of this nation.

Let us recognize the resolution will require changes in both the Black and White Communities.  There is blame on both sides.

Yet, let us be mindful that even under the Old Testament law there were some sins/wrongs that were worthy of death and there were others which were not worthy of death.  So it is today.

There have been Black people whose encounter with law enforcement resulted in the Black person’s death although the potential wrong was not worthy of death.  Likewise, there have been White and Black police officers killed whose possible wrong (or wrong of their colleagues) was not worthy of death. A White man has killed Blacks in a church.  A Black man has killed Whites in a church. Blacks have killed Blacks and Whites have killed Whites.  Here I refer to situations where the people that died were engaged in situations not worthy of death.

Let us, Black and White, be forgiving (Matthew 6:14-15).  Yet, let us say to one another as Jesus says “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).  Let us say as Jesus said to the men who wanted to stone the adulterous woman to death: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Yet, let us also say to one another as Jesus said to that adulterous woman “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Let us be forgiving but let us require greater racial justice.

Let us not become the evil we observe or accuse others of being.

This article is based on info obtained from and Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

Of course, there are far too many other similar incidents that occurred in history. Consider the following examples:

1. Sharecroppers Lynching in Arkansas

2. The massacre that occurred in Slocum, Texas in 1910.


Race and Racism

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