East St. Louis community organizations are forming a committee to discuss reparations for descendants of victims in the city’s 1917 massacre, when a white mob set out to kill Black residents and burn their homes down. The NAACP estimated that between 100 and 200 Black people died, and hundreds more were injured in the attack. Community activists announced the new East St. Louis Reparations Committee on Saturday during their annual march to mark the anniversary of the massacre. More than 50 people attended the event.
Their route took them past a street sign marking the location where the white mob assembled in 1917 at the intersection of Collinsville and St. Louis avenues. As they marched Saturday, they called for reparations and justice. They declared, “Black lives matter.”
The organizations leading the formation of the reparations committee include Empire 13 and the Metro-East Organizing Coalition, led by JD Dixon and Larita Rice-Barnes, respectively. “This massacre has affected the economic advancement of our people,” Rice-Barnes told the crowd on Saturday. “Houses, jobs, property that could have been passed down to this day, it’s no longer here. And it’s up to us to raise that awareness.”
Rice-Barnes said they have the support of the East St. Louis City Council, and the committee will officially start working after the City Council votes on it. She said anyone interested in getting involved can contact Empire 13 or the Metro-East Organizing Coalition.