Ida B. Wells had not intended to take on the cause of lynching until her friend Thomas Moss was dragged out of jail and shot in a rail yard. James Weldon Johnson, poet, civil rights activist, and Field Secretary for the NAACP termed the bloody time “Red Summer”.
The Red Summer of 1919 marked the culmination of steadily growing tensions surrounding the great migration of African Americans from the rural South to the cities of the North that took place during World War I. When the war ended in late 1918, thousands of servicemen returned home from fighting in Europe to find that their jobs in factories, warehouses, and mills had been filled by newly arrived Southern Black people or immigrants. African American veterans who had risked their lives fighting for the causes of freedom and democracy found themselves denied basic rights such as adequate housing and equality under the law, leading them to become increasingly militant.
Featuring music, dance, poetry, and artists and collaborators from the artistic community of Cleveland, Red Summer will excavate many of the unheard stories of that summer and explore what we as a nation have learned since.
Red Summer is supported by a grant from the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.