FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A Black Soldier Being Lynched In 1919?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims to show a uniformed black soldier being lynched during the “Red Summer” of 1919.

“The Red summer of 1919-Victorious black soldiers returning to the U.S. from World War I are lynched while still in uniform!” reads the post caption.

Verdict: False

While black people were lynched during the summer of 1919, this image actually shows a black man being pulled off a street car during a 1943 race riot in Detroit.

Fact Check:

The post shared on Facebook claims to show an incident that took place during the “Red Summer” of 1919, when lynchings and race riots against blacks occurred across the U.S. The term “Red Summer” was coined by civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson, connoting the significant bloodshed of that summer’s violence.

The image, however, has been miscaptioned. The Daily Caller traced the photo back to The Associated Press website, and according to the image caption, it actually shows a black man being dragged from a street car during a June 1943 race riot in Detroit.

On top of $2 million in damages, the riot reportedly left 34 dead and 700 injured, according to the Detroit Historical Society.

The picture also appears in a collection of newspaper clippings related to the 1943 riot, housed at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. “Woodward crowd pictured after it had stopped a street car and was in the act of dragging a Negro passenger into the street,” reads the photo caption, referencing Woodward Avenue, a historic roadway in Detroit.

According to the library, it was published in the June 22, 1943 issue of The Detroit Free Press, featured in a collage of pictures from that riot.

Though black people were lynched or attacked after World War I, as the Facebook post notes, there is nothing to suggest the man being pulled from the street car in the photo was himself a uniformed service member or lynched.

“I do not recall any reference of a lynching during the 1943 riot,” Dominic Capeci, a historian at Missouri State University and co-author of “Layered Violence: The Detroit Rioters of 1943,” told the Caller in an email.

Multiple websites have erroneously claimed that the image shows an incident that occurred during the “Red Summer” of 1919. The site Old Magazine Articles previously displayed the image on a page about the 1919 riots, but the site’s editor acknowledged the error and took the image down after being contacted by the Caller.

Follow Trevor on Twitter

Have a fact check suggestion?  Send ideas to [email protected].

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
Follow Trevor on Twitterhttps://twitter.com/tschakohl