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This is a contributing entry for Longview Race Riot of 1919 and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
This digital story map of the Longview Race Riot begins at the location of Samuel L. Jones's home prior to its destruction by a white mob. Jones was a leader in the Black community who authored articles that were published by the Chicago Defender, one of the leading African American newspapers of the early 20th century. Jones was a reporter and a teacher who resided in this small, quaint town of Longview, Texas, in the summer of 1919. Jones played a significant part in the 1919 Longview Race Riot after an article he submitted to the Chicago Defender cume under scrutiny after he revealed the relationship between Lemuel Walters, a Black man who was lynched a month before the riot, and an unknown white woman from Kilgore, Texas.

A timeline of the Longview Race Riot

A timeline of the Longview Race Riot

Samuel L. Jones was a reporter and teacher in Longview who spoke on behalf of the African American community. A mid-sized East Texas city with 81,600 residents today, Longview at that time was home to a mere 5,700 citizens. Of these citizens, roughly 1/3 were Black and tensions were high during the Red Summer of 1919. Racial tensions were high throughout the country as a result of a number of factors, and in Texas, many white residents resented the growing economic progress of African Americans and the status of Black veterans.

Early July 1919, Jones decided to publish investigate and publish an article on the death of Lemuel Walters. Jones's article reported that Walters followed his heart, straight to the arms of a Southern white woman. Their mutually-consensual romance came to a tragic end, Jones reported, when Walters was whipped and wrongly accused of harassment by his lover's two brothers. Interracial relationships were taboo, and most white Texans saw violence against Black men who attempted to have romantic relationships across the color line as justified.

As a result of public condemnation of his romance, Walters was taken to a jail cell at the Gregg County Courthouse and charged with burglary and harassment. On June 17, 1919, Walters died after a police officer released him to a white mob. Members of the mob murdered Walters as a means of enforcing the color line and sending a message of racialized terror that led to thousands of other lynchings. Jones's article sought to provide a clear perspective on what led up to the lynching, stating that Walters and the married woman were in love and planned to marry upon her divorce. Jones also noted that Walters was a guest in the home he was accused of burglarizing, making it clear that the alleged crime demonstrated that the police and white community were fabricating false charges against the victim. This perspective on Walters personal and consensual relationship with a white woman unmasked the role of law enforcement in perpetuating lynching, and as a result, led to demands by police and white citizens for action against Jones. 

The woman involved had previously been anonymous. The publication of Jones’ article enraged her family and led whites in the community and family members to demand vengeance to defend the honor of the woman who Jones had identified. The same family members who killed Walters came after Jones, where they attacked him for spreading the news about Walters' death and his relationship with their sister. Jones’s home plays a crucial part in the beginning stages of the Longview Race Riots as the response of white Longview residents against Jones spurred violence.  

After news spread that Jones had published an article calling into question the motives of those who had murdered Walters, a group of white men went to Jones' home to demonstrate their anger. Unbeknownst to them, a group of Black men assumed Jones' home would come under attack and were waiting for their arrival. Upon arriving, the white men were met with bullets. Once a larger portion of the white mob got wind of the Black community retaliation, tensions rose to an all-time high. The remaining mob members took to Harrison Street, where they set Jones' house on fire and continued their destructive rampage. The home that stands at this location was built after the mob destroyed the Jones home.

Durham, Ken. (2020) Longview Race Riot of 1919.” TSHA, 2020.

Evans, Glenn, and Les Hassell. (2020). News-Journal Photo. “Longview's Deadly 1919 Race Riot: Passed down Memories, No Markers.” Longview News Journal.

Glasrud, B.A. (2015). Anti-Black Violence in Twentieth-Century Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press.