Subversive Historian – 03/19/09

The Harlem Uprising of 1935

Back in the day on March 19th, 1935 Lino Rivera, a Puerto Rican youth in Harlem, was accused by white store owners of stealing a penknife. Taking place during the Great Depression where people of color suffered greatly, the Harlem Uprising that ensued from this seemingly small altercation began after rumors circulated about Rivera’s condition in policy custody. In response, an organized demonstration took place outside the store when a single rock thrown through its windows touched off events that resulted in three deaths, numerous injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. After the uprising died down, the Mayor of New York ordered a multiracial commission to analyze the causes. Led by African-American sociologist E. Franklin Fraizer, the subsequent report from the commission pointed to employment discrimination, police brutality and segregation as the principle reasons.

In the end, during the times of the New Deal reforms, African-Americans, as the Harlem Uprising illustrates, were still getting a raw deal.


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