and the Awakening of Black America
Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer by blowing up his entire house. As investigators later concluded, Valdinoci most likely tripped on the way to the front door , and the nitroglycerin he was carrying exploded, killing him (his spinal cord crashed through a window several houses away), blowing up the front half of the house, but the life of the Attorney General was saved. Among the first neighbors to arrive at the scene to find a dazed A. Mitchell Palmer was the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who lived across the street. Ten bombs exploded in eight cities that night, with judges, legislators, and a Catholic church as targets; the only casualty was Valdinoci, even when counting earlier attacks in May.
The Red Scare and the Red Summer became intertwined in June, 1919. Soon, the media believed the false connection with African-American activism and Communism; Palmer, Hoover, and the federal government played a huge role in creating and legitimizing that false connection with white citizens.
(Pictured: a very young J. Edgar Hoover)
The second basis for racism in the early-1900s was a pseudo-scientific racism, in which "scientifically researched" books and journals claimed that African-Americans were inferior to whites, and inherently evil in nature. The authors of these books and journals claimed that non-white (lesser) races were threatening the benign, enlightened rule of whites across the globe. Many of these pseudo-scientific publications claimed that African-Americans possessed a much smaller intellect, as well as uncontrollable lust, which to some meant that the practice of lynching was justified.
In addition, the "Lost Cause" (the propaganda that Southern whites were the true victims of the Civil War) had been fully accepted by most whites in the North by 1919. The belief that everything was better in America when there was slavery, when African-Americans were under control (and happy to be slaves), was pervasive in the United States.
In 1919, there was a de facto competition among recent European immigrants to be "white", so they could more easily be assimilated. The easiest (and most effective) way was to make life miserable for African-Americans, doing whatever was necessary to deny them success, especially economically. There was a rising belief among US and European whites that they were under siege by non-whites; if America and Western Europe weren't vigilant, according to the belief, non-whites, within or without, would become too powerful.
After the attack on A. Mitchell Palmer, radicalism (Bolshevism/Communism) had become coterminous with African-American activism and aspirations in the eyes of the federal government and most whites. American whites feared that their "White Civilization" was under attack at home, especially by African-Americans. What was especially feared was the potential "mixing" of the races, which would mean that there would be fewer "true whites".
American whites wanted to contain the aspirations and activities of African-Americans, while at the same time, an increasing number of African-Americans were pursuing their American Dream with a renewed determination after World War I . . . the seeds were sown for the Red Summer of 1919.