On the third Saturday of July in 1919, a number of military men—some recently discharged, some just off-duty, but many in uniform—began indiscriminately beating black men who happened to be walking in the area of the National Mall in Washington D.C. The attackers sought to avenge a white woman who had been allegedly “jostled” by two black men; she claimed that they tried to steal her umbrella. The Washington Post reported the incident under the headline "Negroes Attack Girl."
Washington, D.C., faced a particular set of racial tensions that summer. Local newspapers carried reports decrying the racial conflict tearing apart the nation in other cities, all the while publishing [...]