Nan Elizabeth Woodruff is a professor of African American studies and modern U.S. history at Penn State University. A specialist in twentieth-century African American and southern history, she is the author of American Congo: The African American Freedom Struggle in the Delta (2003, paperback edition 2012), winner of the McClemore Prize. She is currently working on a book project entitled "The Legacies of Everyday Struggle: Memory and Trauma in Grenada and Tallahatchie County, Mississippi in the Post-Civil Rights Era." She has worked extensively with public school teachers.
This lecture discusses the Elaine, Arkansas Massacre that occurred in 1919. It describes the ways that black people had been politicized during World War I, focusing on their organized activities to claim their citizenship rights. The Elaine Massacre represented the efforts of the local, state, and federal governments to destroy the political efforts of black people in the Delta. The story of Elaine is a powerful account of the efforts of rural black people to mobilize against white supremacy and the force that the power structures employed to destroy those efforts.