New York Race Riots

Background:

The New York Race Riots of 1964 were the first in a series of devastating race-related riots that ripped through American cities between 1964 and 1965. The riots began in Harlem, New York following the shooting of fifteen year-old James Powell by a white off-duty police officer on July 18, 1964. Charging that the incident was an act of police brutality, an estimated eight thousand Harlem residents took to streets and launched a large-scale riot, breaking widows, setting fires and looting local businesses. The eruption of violence soon spread to the nearby neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant and continued for six days, resulting in the death of one resident, over one hundred injuries, and more than 450 arrests. As the civil unrest in New York City began to cool, another riot broke out upstate, in Rochester, New York. Like the Harlem Riot, the Rochester Riot stemmed from an alleged act of police brutality. For three days, violent protestors overturned automobiles, burned buildings, and looted stores causing over one million dollars worth of damages. Following Governor Nelson Rockefeller's mobilization of the state's National Guard, public order was restored to Rochester on July 26. The New York Race Riots of 1964 highlighted the racial injustice and growing civil unrest existing in northern cities and served as a powerful indicator of the urgent need for social and economic reforms for African American communities outside of the South.

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