After the Civil War, Black people had secured their freedom. Many had come to Memphis, which had been occupied by Union troops early on in the war to start their lives as free people.
But even though they were legally free, they were far from equal. They weren’t even considered American citizens.
On a spring day in 1866 — a year after the Civil War ended — white citizens lashed out in what would become known as the Memphis Massacre. Despite influencing lawmakers at the time to pass the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, the massacre is largely unknown today.
In this season of Civil Wrongs, we’ll walk you through what was going on behind the scenes to create such a volatile environment of police brutality and sexual violence and explore why so many people don’t know about this crucial moment in American history.
Cover art credit: Ephraim Urevbu
Subscribe to the Institute for Public Service Reporting’s newsletter, consider giving a donation, and follow our work at psrmemphis.org.