Elaine Massacre Phillips County Memorial

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King cotton’s prices were on the rise, but the black sharecroppers who picked it were not benefiting. It was Sept. 30, 1919, and the harvest was about to get underway.

About 100 sharecroppers met at a church in the town of Elaine, a small town in Phillips County that sits in the vast Mississippi Delta Region. Armed black guards protected the people inside. Suddenly, white men appeared outside.

No one knows definitively who fired the first shot, but during an altercation bullets flew, and one white man was killed. Blacks outnumbered whites in that part of the county by at least 9-1 and a panic ensued. Whites poured into that part of the county and formed an armed mob. The 1,000-man mob began to slaughter blacks.   MORE

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