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Mass racial violence in the United States, also called race riots, can include such disparate events as:
- racially based communal conflict involving African Americans that took place following the American Civil War.
- conflict between Americans and recent European immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries.
- attacks on Native Americans and Americans over the land.
- frequent fighting among various ethnic groups in major cities, specifically in the Northeast and Midwest United States throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century. One example was explored in the stage musical West Side Story and its film adaptation, about ethnic conflict in New York between Puerto Ricans and Italians.
- violence involving Latin American immigrants in the 20th century.
- Mass violence and looting in African-American, Mexican-American and Puerto Rican American communities during the 1960s and 1970s, such as the 1967 nationwide riots in most major U.S. cities that led to over 100 deaths, and the 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jrwhich were as widespread and deadly.
- Violent protests and riots resulting from police brutality against African Americans; and the tensions ignited after particular incidents such as the killings of Trayvon Martin (2012), Michael Brown, Jr (2014) and Freddie Gray (2015).
The Civil Rights Era (1940-1971)
Though the Roosevelt administration, under tremendous pressure, engaged in anti-racist propaganda and in some cases helped push for African-American employment, African Americans were still experiencing immense violence, particularly in the South. In March 1956, United States Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina created the “Southern Manifesto”, which promised to fight to keep Jim Crow alive by all legal means.
This continuation of support for Jim Crow and segregation laws led to protests in which many African-Americans were violently injured out in the open at lunchroom counters, buses, polling places and local public areas. These protests did not eviscerate racism, but it forced racism to become used in more coded or metaphorical language instead of being used out in the open.