Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
East St. Louis, Illinois
East St. Louis is an impoverished community and remains as one of the poorest cities in Illinois. The decline of industrial activity has brought about unemployment in East St. Louis.
East St. Louis is located at 38°36'56" North, 90°7'40" West (38.615550, -90.127825).
As of the census2 of 2000, there were 31,542 people, 11,178 households, and 7,668 families residing in the city. The population density is 866.2/km² (2,242.9/mi²). There are 12,899 housing units at an average density of 354.2/km² (917.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 97.74% African American, 1.23% White, 0.19% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.19% from other races, and 0.55% from two or more races. 0.73% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 11,178 households out of which 33.2% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 21.9% are married couples living together, 40.6% have a female householder with no husband present, and 31.4% are non-families. 27.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 10.4% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.80 and the average family size is 3.42.
In the city the population is spread out with 32.8% under the age of 18, 9.7% from 18 to 24, 24.6% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 81.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 72.5 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $21,324, and the median income for a family is $24,567. Males have a median income of $27,864 versus $21,850 for females. The per capita income for the city is $11,169. 35.1% of the population and 31.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 48.6% of those under the age of 18 and 25.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The East St. Louis Riots of 1917
East St. Louis in 1917 had a strong economy boosted by World War I — in response, many African Americans were recruited to work at the Aluminum Ore Company and the American Steel Company . However, resentment on the part of whites planted fear of job security in the population, which eventually manifested itself in rumors of black men and white women fraternizing at a labor meeting on May 28. Immediately, 3000 people had rushed downtown, beating every African American in sight — they destroyed buildings and beat people, but nobody was killed. The National Guard was called in, which prevented further rioting, but rumors continued to circulate about an organized attack from the blacks.
On July 1, a black man shot his white attacker, which was retaliated with a drive-by shooting. When police came to investigate, the African American who had been attacked returned fire, thinking them to be the attackers from before. The next morning, thousands of white spectators who saw the bloodstained automobile marched to the black section of town and started rioting. After cutting the hoses of the fire department, the rioters burned entire sections of the city, shooting the inhabitants as they escaped the flames. Claiming that “Southern niggers deserve[d] a genuine lynching,”1 they hung several blacks. Guardsmen were called in, but several accounts reported that they joined in the rioting rather than stopping it. Everyone joined in including “ten or fifteen young girls about 18 years old, [who] chased a negro woman at the Relay Depot at about 5 o'clock. The girls were brandishing clubs and calling upon the men to kill the woman.”2
See also: Saint Louis, Missouri
1. Willlard A. Heaps. “Target of Prejudice: The Negro.” In Riots, USA 1765-1970, 108-117. (New York: The Seabury Press, 1970), 114.
2. “RACE RIOTERS FIRE EAST ST. LOUIS AND SHOOT OR HANG MANY NEGROES; DEAD ESTIMATED AT FROM 20 TO 76.” New York Times (3 July 1917).
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