Thursday, May 30, 2019

Hundreds Plan to Attend Symposium on the 1919 Elaine Massacre

Twelve men were convicted and sentenced to death after the Elaine Massacre.
The sentences were eventually overturned. (Photo Courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives)

More than 300 people have registered to attend the Black History Commission of Arkansas’s half-day symposium on the Elaine Massacre of 1919 this Saturday at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock.

Special speakers Drs. Brian Mitchell, Cherisse Jones-Branch and Guy Lancaster will speak June 1 on the history of the massacre, its aftermath and ongoing influence. 

The Elaine Massacre is the deadliest racial confrontation in Arkansas history and among the bloodiest racial conflicts in the U.S. At least 200 black people were killed by white people over the course of several days in September 1919.

The Elaine Massacre started Sept. 30, 1919, when African American sharecroppers met to discuss better pay for their cotton. During a union meeting, shots were fired, sparking mass killings. Up to 1,000 white people from surrounding Arkansas counties and as far away as Tennessee traveled to Elaine to take part in the massacre. U.S. troops were eventually called in, and the white mob finally dispersed Oct. 2.

Afterward, more than 200 African Americans were put in jail or stockades, where there were reports of torture. A Phillips County grand jury charged 122 African Americans with crimes connected with the massacre, and a jury convicted 12 African American men of murder. The 12 men were sentenced to death but were eventually released after long court battles.

Teachers earn three professional development credits by attending the free, Saturday event.

The Black History Commission of Arkansas, a board of the State Archives, seeks to raise awareness of the contributions and impact black Arkansans have had on the state’s history. For more information, contact Tatyana Oyinloye, African American program coordinator, at 501-682-6892 or  

  • What: The Elaine Massacre: 100 Years Later
  • When: Check-in at 9:15 a.m.; 9:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 1
  • Who: Speakers Drs. Cherisse Jones-Branch, Brian Mitchell and Guy Lancaster
  • Where: Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 501 W. 9th St. in Little Rock
  • Cost: Free