American Racial Terrorism from Brown to booth to Birmingham

Authored by: R. Blakeslee Gilpin

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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Although terrorism of the late antebellum era is best characterized by violence in the cause of racial liberation, terrorism in the century that followed most often took the opposite tack: violence designed to preserve white supremacy. This chapter chronicles the character of those acts of suppression. American racial terrorism from John Wilkes Booth to the Birmingham 16th Street Church bombing in 1963 encompasses diverse acts but some common themes. So while that century saw terrorist acts in the service of many causes – from attempts by Puerto Rican nationalists to gain independence for their island to the dawn of the airplane hijacking age, the bombing of Wall Street to the assassination of Medgar Evers – racial violence in the United States established common patterns and responses.

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