Common Place Book #2

“At the present moment it takes this form: If white men are to kill unoffending Negroes, Negroes must kill white men in defense of their lives and property.”

– “The East St. Louis Horror” (1917) Hubert Harrison

This sentence is so effective because of how direct it is, especially for the time it was written. An African American man saying that blacks must kill whites in order to defend themselves was a very big deal for this time. In fact, around this same time period an African American was lynched for doing just that. By stating that “Negroes must kill white men,” Harrison is doing more than simply attacking the problem of white violence against African Americans, he is catching eyes as well. Now that Harrison has the readers full attention and interest, his later explanations of ways that African Americans can force a change in their situation are payed attention to and not simply glossed over and skipped.

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