Knoxville's Red Summer of 1919

Sep 12, 2019


In the summer of 1919, what was already a tense and complex time in American history exploded into racial conflict nationwide and remains known as the Red Summer. The First World War had just ended, soldiers were returning home to an uncertain economy, and suspicion of “the other” and fear of the unknown ran rampant. The story of Knoxville’s own Red Summer is on stage at the Bijou Theatre in the Carpetbag Theatre’s production of the same name.

WUOT's Chrissy Keuper spoke with Knoxville History Project Director Jack Neely about what some call the Knoxville Race Riot of 1919…

About 80 years after this event, Knoxville’s Carpetbag Theatre commissioned a play called Red Summer about the events in Knoxville. Playwright Mayta Hayley wrote a text, which was reworked by Carpetbag’s Executive/Artistic Director Linda Parris-Bailey and others in a collaboration with Beck Cultural Exchange Center. Chrissy spoke with Linda Parris-Bailey about the play and about what has and hasn't changed in the last 100 years...

For further reading:

A comprehensive retelling of the events of August 1919 was written by Matthew Lakin of the Knoxville News Sentinel for the East Tennessee Historical Society and can be found here.