SLOCUM -- In the waning days of July 1910, racial hatred ignited around this East Texas village. Bands of white residents took up rifles and shotguns and hunted down and slaughtered African-Americans. When it was over, estimates of the black dead ranged from eight to 20 or more. All of the known victims were unarmed and most were shot in the back, authorities said at the time.
Some initial newspaper accounts erroneously reported that whites had also been killed, describing the Slocum incident as a race riot or black uprising. The stories inflamed whites across Texas and nearly led to the lynching of a black man in downtown Fort Worth.
But Slocum was no riot.
"Men were going about killing Negroes as fast as they could find them, and, so far as I was able to ascertain, without any real cause," Anderson County Sheriff W.H. Black, a white from nearby Palestine, was quoted as saying in the Aug. 1, 1910, edition of The New York Times. "These Negroes have done no wrong that I can discover. I don't know how many there were in the mob, but there may have been 200 or 300. They hunted the Negroes down like sheep."
Seven white men were indicted on murder charges and had their cases transferred to Houston on a change of venue. But none ever came to trial.
In terms of loss of life and property, Slocum rivals a 1921 atrocity in Tulsa and another two years later in Rosewood, Fla., among the worst racial pogroms in the nation's history. But in Slocum, now consisting of a school and smattering of houses 150 miles southeast of Fort Worth, no public monument commemorates what happened. It is not taught in history classes. Eighteen miles away, in larger Palestine, residents look bewildered at the mention of the bloody events of that summer so long ago.
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