Palestine was startled early this morning by a rural telephone message from Slocum bringing information that a race war was on in that part of the county, and saying that fifteen negroes were killed there last night and six others this morning.
-Palestine Daily Herald, Afternoon Edition, July 30, 1910
It is one of many racial genocidal pogroms that has been unheard for decades.
It happened in the tiny community of Slocum located in East Texas.
The day was July 29, 1910, a day which started as any other day for the citizens of Slocum, Texas, when from out of nowhere, hell on earth tore apart this community with massive loss of life, property and the basic protection as citizens of the USofA.
That day became a bloodbath of racial genocide and banishment for the Black residents of the tiny all-Black town of Slocum with all the Black victims slaughtered, all of them unarmed. During the massacre in 1910, the state militia and Texas Rangers had to be called out by then governor to Slocum.
What happened to cause this?
What cause the White neighbors to viciously attack and murder their Black neighbors—-shooting them in the back, many gunned down while fleeing the racial terror, falling dead next to the bundles they hastily prepared to escape utter and complete destruction?
Many theories are given as to what caused so many Whites on Thursday or Friday in late July 1910, to become rabid and obliterate an entire community of Black people.
Could it have been that sometime after a Black American was too slow to take care of a promissory note that was due? Could it have been when a Houston County road supervisor asked a Black man to gather up extra men to work on road maintenance for the county? Could it have been rage over the victory in Reno, Nevada of a Black boxer named Jack Johnson knocking out the “Great White Hope” Jim Jeffries of that time? Or could it have been the pent-up venom that angry white manhood felt after having to be forced to obey the Constitution and the laws that gave rights to their fellow Black citizens?
Whatever the catalyst, whatever the lie that was started to commit these heinous acts of genocide, when it was over, many of the Black people of Slocum, Texas either lay dead or were driven from their homes and property.
The numbers of dead went up and down as the days and weeks stretched on into months, from eight dead to over 200 dead, as Sheriff John C. Lacy of Houston County telegraphed Sheriff William H. Black of Anderson County in his recount of the horrific massacre:
“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. These negroes have done nothing wrong that I could discover. There was just a hot-headed gang hunting them down and killing them. I don’t know how many were in the mob, but I think there must have been 200 or 300. Some of them cut telephone wires. They hunted the negroes down like sheep.
-Anderson County sheriff W.H. Black to the New York Times, August 1, 1910
With the many Black people driven from their homes, racist Whites took over by adverse possession the land, homes and other property that belonged to so many hard-working black people who were the rightful owners. For decades, this most horrific atrocity was swept away from memory in dishonor to the lives and blood of those murdered innocents, as if it never happened.
The third and the most serious reason which is believed to be directly responsible for the tragedies is the seemingly baseless and unfounded wild reports and rumors which gained currency and which were magnified as they were reported from mouth to mouth. These were to the effect that the negroes were preparing to rise and kill all of the white people.
-Dallas Morning News, August 1, 1910
But, their silent voices did not remain buried in the swamps and earth around that tiny east Texas town where innocent Black citizens sought to have a community to live in during the height of racist Jane Crow segregation.
One such woman refused to let them not be forgotten.
Her name is Mrs. Constance Hollie-Jawaid (after the massacre, the family changed the spelling of its name to avoid reprisals), a descendant of a Slocum survivor, her great-great-grandfather Jack Holley. He had risen from being a freed slave to a successful businessman. She would not let their deaths be ignored and disrespected, and through the years she petitioned the state of Texas to remember and commemorate the known and unknown Black people whose innocent lives were taken from them.
On January 16, 2016, an historical marker to the Slocum Massacre was unveiled. This reflected a multi-year campaign by former high school principal Mrs. Hollie-Jawaid , author E. R. Bills, and others.
Today, Slocum, Texas is an unincorporated community of 200 with a Black population that is less than 7%. According to the Handbook of Texas, published by the Texas State Historical Association, Slocum petitioned to get its own post office in the 19th century which took a very long time to occur, and that post office no longer exists. In 1929, Slocum was torn apart by a tornado that killed eight people, injuring as many as 150 others and left a mule stuck high in a tree.
But, no where is it mentioned anywhere in this handbook of the 1910 Slocum Massacre, when on that day a savage mob of local whites went on a bloodlust rampage, killing many Black citizens helter-skelter, and driving many of the local Black American population in fear of their lives, leaving abandoned homes and property, never to return.
With the unveiling of the plaque to remember the victims of this genocidal massacre, the mayor of Slocum cried that the present-day people of Slocum were not racist. No one said or implied that they were—just that those Black people who were murdered should never be forgotten.
Slocum 1910 is just one of many racial pogroms that joins Tulsa/Greenwood, Oklahoma, Rosewood, Florida, and Wilmington, North Carolina as bitter truths of America’s holocaust against her defenseless and innocent Black citizens.
May they find it with in them to forgive their murderers, and may they all rest in peace.
- A Forgotten Slaughter of African-Americans in Texas: The Slocum Massacre by E. R. Bills in the Dissident Voice
- Town’s 1910 racial strife a nearly forgotten piece of Texas past by E. R. Bills in the Statesman
- The 1910 Slocum Massacre: An Act of Genocide in East Texas by E. R. Bills from Arcadia Publishing (2014)
- Convenient Amnesia in Texas—The Slocum Massacre by Patrick Murfin
- How Should a 1910 East Texas Massacre Be Remembered?, My Statesman
- Slocum Massacre Highlights Historical Double Standard in the South, NPR, January 15, 2016
- It Took Texas a Century to Remember African Americans Slaughtered in Slocum, Houston Press