Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Conversation with Historian David Krugler About African-American Resistance to White Violence During the Red Summer of 1919

Historian David Krugler is the guest on this week's episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show.

David is the author of the new book 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back.

Dr. Krugler's work is an exciting intervention against a narrative of African-American passivity in the face of white racial pogroms and other violence in the post World War One era. Black America has used a range of means to resist white supremacy. "Non-violence" has come to dominate public memory about the Black Freedom Struggle. Great work such as David's is helping a broader public to learn what black Americans have always known: African-Americans fought back with honor and dignity against the violence that was visited upon them by Jim and Jane Crow, the white mob, and the racial state.

Dr. Krugler and Chauncey discuss the Black Freedom Struggle, why and how the legacy of African-American resistance to white racial violence has been erased in the American public memory, some of the great stories of resistance that David uncovered in his research, and what prompted the nationwide white on black racial terrorism of 1919 and its relationship to Whiteness.

David and Chauncey also talk about the former's great book on American civil defense during the Cold War and how racism even impacted the United States' preparations for defending against a nuclear war.

Friend of WARN Bill the Lizard also stops by to talk about the great new movie Mad Max: Fury Road.

And of course, Chauncey gives an epic recounting of how he damn near broke his leg before going to see Mad Max: Fury Road and what the recovery has been like so far.

This episode of The Chauncey DeVega Show with David Krugler can be listened to below or "watched" on the official Youtube channel for

The Chauncey DeVega Show can also be followed on Itunes and listened to via Stitcher on your smart phone or like device.


joe manning said...

Good show. Learned a lot. The story of your knee injury is a cautionary tale to always be on guard against freak accidents.

We can fault the Founders for being slave holders but we should also remember that they were elitists who extended only the bare minimum of civil rights to folks in order to win their support for the revolution.

The WW1 troops referred to their commanding general as Black Jack Pershing in opposition to his integrating the armed forces. He and his staff were loathe to integrate and only did so out of military necessity. Civil Defense also necessitated the support of people of color. At some point racism always becomes obsolete.

As you alluded to, In Boardwalk Empire the Chalky White cohort provided a pretty good depiction of black mobilization against anti-black collective action and black power in general. The political alliances between the black community and the Republican Party in Atlantic City again showed the necessity of integration toward people power. This all goes to show the practical necessity of solidarity minus ethnic divisions.

chauncey devega said...

Boardwalk Empire is a masterful show. So much going on that didn't get the attention it deserved. How can one be on guard against freak accidents? Interesting meta/ontological question, no?

I got my boxing reference wrong--hides head--that call was from the Foreman fight.

Gable1111 said...

Great show and discussion.

Regarding a question you brought up in the discussion with Wilson about why WWI and 1919 had been thrown down the memory hole. The answer to that applies not just to the war and 1919, but all of US history that does not gibe with the right wing/tea bagger myths about slavery, the Constitution, those who wrote it and American exceptionalism. In order to support their vision of a colorblind nation where white supremacy reigns, most of the real history of the US has to be disappeared.

History is being erased practically as its being made (for ex. Baltimore) in order to serve the racist myths.

chauncey devega said...

Thank you. I keep striving to get better. Are we on the right direction?

Dr. Drugler is the real deal. Great skill set. So smart. And a great communicator. I just love learning from our guests and sharing it with folks here.

Your points on history are spot on. What to do? Is this just sacred knowledge that most ignore?

Gable1111 said...

I never would have thought that racism and threats to black life and culture, the poor and POC would be as virulent and prevalent as it is today. But what you bring with WARN is intellectually fresh; an oasis of sanity and truth and the right thing at the right time.

What to do? The solution is straightforward: education. And you do a good job of that here. The more people know the truth and facts, the less of a foothold there is for racist ignorance.

But education has been attacked steadily since the 60s and eroded to the point now where its frightening what recent generations don't know. And this is by design. What's worse, the public is being acculturated where not knowing is a virtue. The right wing, acting as the cultural vanguard for corporations and wealth, has brought back from the 19th century (among other things) Know Nothingism with a vengeance. Ignorance is all the rage in the dominant culture. With it has come a knee jerk penchant for hatred and celebration of violence. Even the most innocuous posts on line can result in vulgarities and death threats. People blame this on the technology, but its the culture.

Somehow the focus has to be put on education on a broad scale. The right is busy undermining history and rewriting it across the country, right down to the text books. Meanwhile, the media does its part, distracting the public with reality shows and telling them they have "very busy lives" with the implication that you don't have time for anything other than what the culture says is important.

I would hope that there are enough honest and passionate actors left in academia and elsewhere to push this point en mass, eventually, but then again, I worry that train may have already left the station.

The good news is, since the murders of Trayvon Martin and up to Freddy Gray, people are standing up and taking to the streets. So there is push back. What you do with WARN maintains the focus and keeps that momentum going.

The answer? More of the same.