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A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
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A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  196 ratings  ·  58 reviews
On a hot day in July 1919, five black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the "white" beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations. This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary ...more
198 pages
Published 2017 by Clarion
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  196 ratings  ·  58 reviews

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Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, ya
Informative and important, but the narrative didn't really grab me. Heavy on background (Great Migration, Eastern/Central European immigration to the United States in the early 19th century) to the extent that the book feels mistitled. Will re-read.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
*** I received an e galley from Netgalley in return for an honest review.***
I do not read much nonfiction, but I was interested in the topic having read The Hate U Give and All-American Boys. I agree with other readers that most of the book discusses the issues and the history of Chicago leading up to the riots and little on the riots themselves. I thought it was a good read and would make a good pairing with the books previously mentioned.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicago
A few boys drift too far outside the racially-designated beach at Lake Michigan one summer and trouble ensues. A boy dies and rumors fly and it is soon black against white and white against black. Many die as the destruction goes on for days, fed by lies subtly shared by standing city gangs and by those who profit most from conflict.

It's a dark story of people against people as pressures increase in the city after the war for jobs, for housing. It's a cautionary tale for today as well, with lie
Jennifer Mangler
I really learned a lot from this book, and the history of race and ethnic relations in Chicago is fascinating, but it's not what I was expecting because the book is seriously mistitled. The very beginning and the very end of the book focus on the race riot, but the biggest central part of the book is devoted to setting the stage for the riot. That's necessary and important, because without this part the riot can't be fully understood, but it means that the book is about so much more than the rio ...more
Kyle Pucciarello
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Informative, but a little dry.

The first half of the book is mostly dedicated to immigration and setting up Chicago's variety of ethnicities. This is important to set up the riots of 1919, but perhaps too much time was spent on this aspect.

Once we get to the riots, we get plenty of information. However, I easily could see this done as narrative non-fiction in a more intriguing way that might truly get to a YA reader.

I also would have liked more of a connection to today's issues, or some grander
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although titled The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, most of this book focuses on building the background of what led to these riots: building tensions between blacks, white Protestants, and Irish immigrants. The division between blacks and whites, rich and poor, American-born and immigrants became deeper by the day in Chicago. Finally, on an unseasonably hot September day, a group of four black teenage boys was attacked by a white teen throwing rocks as they were swimming and rafting on Lake Michigan ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
I was really disappointed with this book. The layout is attractive and the supplemental materials (posters, photographs, etc) are interesting. The storytelling is the problem. Hartfield does not seem to take the intended audience in mind as she lays out the history of the race riot. Based on the book's format, I would assume this book is intended for middle grade readers. Teens typically would not pick up a book this size. Hartfield starts with the precipitating event of the riot and then goes b ...more
Read it online. I knew nothing about the 1919 race riot in Chicago or very much about the meat packing industry and unions involved in it at that time, so it was an informative book, but it could have been much more gripping. The black and white pictures were appreciated and well used. And I felt it smoothed out the current state of unrest more than it should have, given the subject matter, though I suppose it was trying to end on a hopeful note.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A quick, interesting and enjoyable read. A Few Red Drops spends the majority of it's time not on the riot itself, but in setting up the context for why such a deadly riot occurred. By building up the history of Chicago at the time, and how the great migration, WWI and Unionizing efforts in Chicago Meat Packing industry stoked tensions along racial and ethnic lines, A Few Red Drops gives a much fuller picture of the 1919 riot. Solid rec.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
While the focus of the book is the Chicago race riots of 1919, it does a great job in covering the late 1800s/early 1900s changes in Chicago that lead up to the 1919 riots. The influx of immigrants to the city, the meat packing industry and the big bosses who definitely took advantage of the workers as well as the individual ethnic communities all were components that played a part. As the industry became more automated, the workers were being paid less and finally unions took off, but some peop ...more
Emily Jackson
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read that discusses the Chicago Race Riot and a historical event about African Americans
Joyce Yattoni
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just finished this nonfiction read about the Chicago race riots of 1919. I was naive before I read this book. I didn’t realize that there were race riots in Chicago. After all, this was the north and I thought the north had a different attitude towards people of color. After the Civil War many African Americans migrated to the north to establish better lives. However, European immigrants did not welcome these individuals with open arms. In fact, many immigrants were given favorable treatment ove ...more
Peter Kilkelly
Feb 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Too kind to Chicago authorities and whites, even the idea of a "race riot" is somewhat misleading. This was white's using terroristic violence to enforce the boundaries of where black Chicagoans could go, with the help of the police. Still, it does include a lot of good historical detail and photography, for those unfamiliar with this event.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The chapter headings in this book have a fine spray of red spatters behind them, which is a little disconcerting. Otherwise, an interesting history of something I knew nothing about.
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids, non-fiction
It started out great, but then it stopped the riot story to give 120 pages of back story. It then finished with another 10ish pages of the riot outcome. By then I had lost interest and I think many kids will too.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an ARC. As other readers have stated, this book isn't only about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. Over half the book is dedicated to Chicago immigrant history and race relations in the 19th and 20th centuries. The title would more appropriately be something along the lines of "Chicago Race Relations." It was a quick read with a lot of great historical photographs of Chicago landmarks and people; it was only lacking a map of Chicago and all the neighborhoods that were discus ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
After the initial setup of the story, the book sounds too much like a textbook until you get back to the information about the actual riots towards the end. It sounds like they had a lot of material to deal with. I wished they would have shared more anecdotal information about the riots as well.
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1919, an horrific event took place in the city of Chicago that became known as the Race Riot of 1919. It was sparked by the drowning of a black teenager who, along with his friends, had "trespassed" into the waters of an all-white beach. It was an unspoken rule that the blacks could swim on one beach in the area and the whites used the other. Neither race was supposed to infringe on the boundaries of the other. But, on one hot Chicago day, a group of Black teenagers were swimming in "forbidde ...more
Ms. Yingling
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Public Library Copy

There's a good deal of information about the events of the Red Summer, but the best part of this book is the extensive background of Chicago's Packingtown and Black Belt neighborhoods, starting in the 1850s and continuing on. It discusses living conditions in both the north and the south for African-Americans, and describes the black middle and upper class in a way that is very hard to find. For students who may only ever have read about blacks in slavery or being denied right
This dense narrative nonfiction explains every important detail relating to the time, era, feelings, opinions, politics, sociology, and work ethic of a snapshot of Chicago in a time of changes. Hartfield explains the meat packing industry, Chicago at large, black migration, the effects of World War II, living conditions, socioeconomic status in particular between affluent African Americans and poorer African Americans. It discusses religion and social organizations. The influence of a newspaper, ...more
Harry Brake
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ida Wells-Barnett, Carl Sandburg, Chicago Defender, Ragen's Colts, John Turner Harris, "Red Summer", and hundreds of topics are ripe for research and could be topics of how to strengthen communities - perfect research senior projects that could be aligned to topics and struggles we see TODAY in the news of equality, gender, political, economic, and social struggles we see today.

A Few Red Drops is an amazing account of the Race Riots of 1919 and a playbook of study to create solutions to so many
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
At first I thought this book was going to try and pinpoint the moment in time that triggered the riot. It doesn't. It can't. So-called riots are the result of decades and lifetimes of mistreatment.

The book does start out with a micro-moment in time: when a little Black boy was killed by a White boy because he was on a "White" beach. This might have been the spark that set off what had been smoldering for many years.

Hartfield writes about the tensions between the union and non-union members. Abou
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The books was interesting. In college, I took a class on the rise of unions in Chicago and how it impacted tensions between the different ethnic groups, but I have never heard about the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. I loved all of the pictures taken of important figures in history, of the actual riots, the locations of the beaches, homes and work places and I loved how their were historical documents too. The story was interesting where it started with the actual event then went back and showed how ...more
4 black friends were swimming/playing at the "black" beach in Chicago one hot summer day in 1919. They had unknowingly drifted very close to the "white" beach and someone started throwing rocks at them. It might have been a game; it might not but the boys couldn't swim. When one of them got hit in the head with a rock and drowned, it was definitely not a game any longer. It also set off a string of events that had been brewing for a long time. Racial tensions had been fomenting for a long time i ...more
Lennox Randon
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A Few Red Drops” is a fascinating overview and history of the Chicago race riot of 1919, but is also a fairly comprehensive study of social and racial matters in the US and the connection between economics and strife. The book is beautifully laid out and rich in history, containing numerous photos, maps, and other visual aids.
Hartfield makes clear the plight of the immigrants, both Black and European, and the desperation of so many, but she also plainly calls out the greed and cruelty of others
Christine Irvin
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Author Claire Hartfield provides the background and history of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919, detailing not only what happened at the time, but all the events that led up to the riot. The narrative is detailed in its explanation of this explosive time period in our American history. Many photographs are scattered throughout the text that illustrate this time period. The author includes a copy of the poem, "I Am the People, The Mob," by Carl Sandburg (which is quoted some in the text), a detailed ...more
Amy Formanski Duffy
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's rare to find engaging nonfiction for teens. This one is perfect for Chicago readers who are working on history fair projects or who just love reading about our city's history. What's shocking is how much has NOT changed in the past 100 years: racial tension, segregated neighborhoods, economic disparity, police brutality, and corrupt politicians. I know it sounds depressing, but it reads like a suspenseful novel and it's not too long. I appreciated that the author didn't dumb anything down f ...more
Robin Raines-Bond
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The poem this book ends with is perfect at summing it up and truly enhanced the read. I appreciated all the information and the authors reasoning. This is important information that needs to not be forgotten, least we repeat it - again and again. I liked being able to see so many different view points and feel empathy of why each race has hostilities against the other. It helps to see all the miscommunication and misunderstandings and really inspired me to be a better communicator. Books like th ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it liked it
A very interesting book about the Race Riots 1919 in Chicago.
Is it an award winner? No, not even close.
It is an important informational book yes!
3 full stars is all I can give it!
It taught me about a time in history I didn't know about and in a place I didn't know about race relations. I do know that Chicago has the largest of murder per capia per year... .. so that interesting but not mentioned in the book.

Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, ya
A sad and maddening in-depth look at the lead up to the race riot in Chicago of 1919. Sadly, many of the same issues are still relevant today (eg, police mistreatment of blacks, racial prejudice, mistrust of immigrants, ignorance of our veterans, and a wide income disparity). A white friend wanted to know why blacks had race riots. This was a white riot, with white gangs killing blacks with impunity, and a few blacks retaliating but bearing a heavy price.
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