Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando Mass Shooting Not Deadliest in American History

By Ariela Gross
Jun 14, 2016

Ariela Gross is the John B. & Alice R. Sharp Professor of Law & History at USC Gould School of Law and author of “What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America.” She is on Twitter as @arielagross.

The massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando was a horrific tragedy. But it was not unprecedented – and it was not the “deadliest mass shooting in American history,” as many have called it.

To call it that is to forget the last hundred years of U.S. history of mass violence fueled by racial hatred and homophobia. Although precise numbers of deaths are impossible to specify, at least 100 African Americans were killed in East S​t.​ Louis, Ill., in one bloody night in July 1917; anywhere from 55 to 300 blacks were massacred in Tulsa​, Okla.,​ in 16 hours in June 1921; and dozens more were killed in Rosewood, Fla., in January 1923. And of course, more recently, 32 died in the 1973 bombing of the UpStairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans.


What were called one hundred years ago “race riots” were in fact pogroms, in which mobs armed with guns, explosives and fire – sometimes dropped from private planes – killed African American men, women and children, destroyed homes, and racially cleansed entire towns and cities, driving survivors into exile.


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