Racial Bombing in Studs Lonigan. Page 294. Chicago. University of Chicago Press.1932 by James T. Farrell

 

Farrell's story of the young adult life of the Irish gang member, Studs Lonigan, descirbes the unadulterated racism of the time. Here, Farrell relates a story about the bombing of the home an African American real estate agent, "Abraham Clarkson." This character was based on the real life business man, Jesse Binga, whose home was bombed seven times between 1917 and 1921. During the same time there were no less than 58 racial bombings, which left two dead. Most of the bombs were aimed at black families who moved into white neighborhoods. For more, see Spear, Black Chicago.

 

A HOLLOW ROAR, like heavy thunder, splitting the sky in a storm, boomed over the neighborhood.  people near Fifty-ninth and South Park Avenue heard falling glass, and in some cases, their building, and the very bedrooms in which they slept, quaked.  Inside of five minutes a crowd was collected in front of a low, two-story, red stone house between Fifth-ninth and Sixtieth on South Park Avenue.  Two policemen stood before the crumbled steps, and the long wide porch before the building was splintered and half-wrecked.

 

The crowd was steadlin enlarged by people of all ages who displayed the signs of hasty arousal from sleep; men with trousers and coats pulled on over pyjamas, kids with tousled hair and sleep still in their eyes, surprised and half-dressed women.  There was much talk and speculation, and amongst them there was a general consensus that the bomb had been placed there through the machinations of real-estate people who desired that Abraham Clarkson, the leading colored banker of Chicago, should sell his property and cease living in a white man’s neighborhood.  Most of the excited and gaping people present also eyed the wreckage with approval, wishing that it would hav a proper and fearful effect.  But they knew that the bomb would teach no lessons and inspire no fear.  Fro Abraham Clarkson had been bombed before, and he had stated defiantly that he would move from his home to another one only in a casket.  It was nerve for the nigger to say that and go on ruining a white man’s neighborhood, living amongst people who didn’t want him.  Secretly, many of those present wished that he had been killed.  Some fo the Catholics wished only that it had wounded him, un-mortally, for didn’t he always give Father Gilhooley a hundred dollars in the annual Easter and Christmas collections.  The crowed increased.  After about three quarters of an hour of gaping, it slowly dispersed.  Red Kelly walked off arguing with Tommy Doyle, Red insisting that it was the fifth time the jigg had been bombed, Tommy contending that it was only the fourth time.

 

 

 

                                    Spear, Black Chicago, 1967.  Univ. of Chicago.