Race Riot of 1917 (Lexington, KY)
On September 1, 1917, a race riot broke out in Lexington, KY, one of the many riots that took place across the United States between 1917 and 1921. The country was at war abroad, while at home tensions had escalated because of demands for civil rights, and the Great Migration North had created employment and housing competition between the races.
The day of the Lexington riot, an extremely large number of African Americans were in the city, having arrived for the week of activities at the Colored A. & M. Fair that was held on Georgetown Pike. The colored fair in Lexington was one of the largest in the South.
During the same period, National Guard troops were camped on the edge of the city. On the day of the riot, three National Guard troops were passing in front of an African American restaurant, shoving aside those who were on the sidewalk. A fight broke out and reinforcements arrived for both sides, leading to a riot.
The Kentucky National Guard was summoned, and once calm was restored, armed soldiers on foot and on mount patrolled the streets, along with police. All other National Guard troops were removed from the city streets for the duration of the fair.
The story of the riot was carried in newspapers across the United States. For more see "Race rioting in Lexington," The Ogden Standard, 9/01/1917, p. 13; and "Race riot in Lexington," Raleigh Herald, 9/07/1917, p. 6.