Black People : 1927 Flood: It Happened Before!

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Sep 2, 2005.

  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The American Experience: Fatal Flood​

    In 1927, weeks of spring rain sent the Mississippi River rampaging from Cairo, Illinois, to New Orleans, flooding dozens of towns, killing hundreds, and leaving a million homeless. In Greenville, Mississippi, efforts to contain the river pitted a black majority against an aristocratic plantation family, the Percys -- and the Percys against themselves.
    January 1: In Cairo, Illinois, the first of multiple crests breach flood stage on the Mississippi River. The river appears to be on the verge of flooding, but the Mississippi River Commission still insists the levees will hold.
    March: Huge swells on the Mississippi River move downstream and reach the Delta. Heavy rains fall on the Delta throughout March and continue into April. Some white residents of Greenville, especially women and children, flee the area and head north.
    March and April: LeRoy Percy and other plantation owners send their farm hands to raise the height of Washington County levees. Other African Americans in the area are pressed into work gangs to heighten and fortify the levees. Police round up African Americans in town at gun point and send them to the levee. Convicts are also pressed into action, and altogether a gang of 30,000 men work to save the levee.
    April 15, Good Friday: Rains pelt Washington County, and Greenville receives 8.12 inches. The storm covers several hundred square miles, and counties along the Mississippi receive anywhere from 6 to 15 inches of rainfall.
    LeRoy Percy and other town leaders gather at the home of Seguine Allen, chief engineer of the Mississippi Levee Board in Greenville, to discuss whether the levee will hold.
    April 16: The Great Flood of 1927 begins. Just 30 miles south of Cairo, Illinois, a1,200-foot length of government levee collapses and 175,000 acres are flooded. In some places the river is carrying 3 million cubic feet of water a second -- an unprecedented volume.
    April: Communities on both sides of the river know that if the levee breaks on one side, the other side will be spared. Each side of the river fears sabotage, and sets up levee patrols to prevent intruders from dynamiting their levee. The patrols are prepared to shoot to kill.
    April 21: At 8:00 am, twelve miles up river from Greenville at Mounds Landing, despite the efforts of African American work crews who have been laboring day and night, the levee bursts. With a force greater than Niagara Falls, water gushes through a crevasse three quarters of a mile wide. When the levee collapses, many of the African Americans working at the Mounds Landing site are swept away with the river.
    April 22: The Great Flood overruns Greenville, Mississippi. Downtown Greenville is covered in 10 feet of water. For 60 miles to the east and 90 miles to the south of the Mounds Landing break, the Delta becomes a turbulent, churning inland sea, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded on rooftops and clinging to trees. LeRoy Percy appoints his son, Will Percy, to head the Flood Relief Committee. Will is 42 years old. April 23: Searching for marooned people in Washington County, rescue boats follow power lines to farms and houses in the countryside, bringing back whomever they find to the high ground on the crown of the Greenville levee. Over 10,000 refugees, mostly African Americans, crowd onto the narrow eight-foot-wide crown with their salvaged possessions and livestock. With the arrival of the refugees, Greenville's population almost doubles.
    April 25: The situation in Greenville is dire. Thirteen thousand African Americans are stranded on the levee with nothing but blankets and makeshift tents for shelter. There is no food for them. The city's water supply is contaminated. The railway has been washed away, and sanitation is non-existent. An outbreak of cholera or typhoid is imminent.
    Will Percy decides that the only honorable and decent course of action is to evacuate the refugees to safer ground down river and arranges for barges to pick up and transport the refugees. Many people are reluctant to abandon Greenville, despite the fact that their homes have been submerged. The planters, in particular, oppose Will's plan, fearing that if the African American refugees leave, they will never return, and there will be no labor to work the crops. LeRoy, placing his business interests above his family's tradition of aiding those less fortunate, betrays his son and secretly sides with the planters. Boats with room for all the refugees arrive, but only 33 white women and children are allowed to board. The African American refugees are left behind, trapped on the levee. Later, Will Percy will write that he was "astounded and horrified" by this turn of events.
    April: To justify his relief committee's failure to evacuate the refugees, Will Percy convinces the Red Cross to make Greenville a distribution center, with the African Americans providing the labor. Red Cross relief provisions arrive in Greenville, but the best provisions go to the whites in town. Only African Americans wearing tags around their necks marked "laborer" receive rations. National Guard is called in to patrol the refugee camps in Greenville. Word filters out of the camps that guardsmen are robbing, assaulting, raping and even murdering African Americans held on the levee.
    April 26: Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, placed in charge of flood relief by President Calvin Coolidge, visits Greenville and approves the flood relief committee's plans.
    April 29: The torrent has moved south. With the river almost at the levee tops, New Orleans dynamites the Poydras levee, creating a 1500-foot break at an estimated cost of $2 million, to direct the flood waters away from the city and its half million inhabitants. Movie cameras are on hand to record the momentous scene. The New York Times reports that many people refuse to quit the area to be flooded by the levee break. One woman living in a lighthouse "says she won't quit her post unless Uncle Sam comes to take her away."
    May: Slowly word of the abuses in the refugee camps reaches the Northern press. Once the situation in the refugee camps hits the national press, Herbert Hoover initiates an investigation of the reports. His investigators confirm numerous instances of abuse, but Hoover chooses to suppress the report. Hoover, known as "the Great Humanitarian," has his eyes set on the presidency. He has ridden a wave of good publicity from his flood relief efforts, and is determined to maintain his positive image. Hoover forms a Colored Advisory Commission of influential African American conservatives, led by Robert Russa Moton, to further investigate the camps. The commission confirms the initial findings. In exchange for keeping the report quiet, Hoover promises that if he wins the election, he will support the advancement of African Americans, including possible agrarian land reform. Moton agrees, and Hoover is never called to account for the treatment of African Americans in Washington County.
    June and July: As the flood waters recede, Greenville faces the task of digging the town out the mud. Again, the white leadership of the town resorts to conscripting African Americans at gun point. African American community leaders are outraged and refuse to recruit more workers. The Percys convince Hoover to visit Greenville and appeal to the workers, but his speech is a failure and the shortage of workers persists.
    July 7: James Gooden, a well respected African American in the Greenville community, is shot in the back by a white policeman for refusing to return for a day shift after working all night on the clean-up. Word of his death spreads quickly and work stops. Tensions rise, and both blacks and whites arm themselves with guns and other weapons. Greenville is at a standoff. Will Percy calls a reconciliation meeting of the African American community at a local church, but places the blame on them for the death of their neighbor.
    August 31: Will Percy resigns from the Greenville Flood Relief Committee and leaves for a trip to Japan the very next day.
    Late summer: Thousands of African Americans pack up their belongings and leave Washington County. Most head north and within a year, fifty percent of the Delta's African American population will have migrated from the region. Once "the Queen of the South," Greenville will never recover the prosperity it once enjoyed before the flood.
    1928 After Hoover is elected president, he turns his back on Robert Moton, the Colored Advisory Commission, and his earlier promises. Burned badly by Hoover, in the next election Moton and the African American community shift their support from the Republicans to the Democratic party and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
    1929 LeRoy Percy, his wife dead and his empire in ruins, dies in Greenville. Will Percy takes over as head of the Percy clan in Greenville, works to rebuild his father's empire, and continues to live in his father's home until his death in 1942.

     
  2. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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  3. Wisdom7

    Wisdom7 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    That was very interesting. In looking at that article vs today, it's impossible to believe that the Head of Emergency and government officials had no idea that things would escalate to this level and that their would be this much damage.

    The government has no problem getting troops in there ready to shoot and kill as they say, but not much in the sense of rescue efforts.

    Why not take a city with a known large poor African American presence, who has no means of evacuating and recreate the disaster believing it possible to manipulate the weather (not doubting it)

    Then spread and focus on the image of African Americans stealing and looting. If our own got caught up in judging their acts of desperation, imagine the non-black races.

    Now, just as in 911, the President is slow to react. It was stated now 5-6 days after the disaster, the President will be visiting to look at the disaster. In other words, "view his crafty work"

    I'm curious to see the "work programs" offered to our brothers and sisters as a form of survival. Would they be forced to be indentured servants?

    It's amazing how in a flash, we could all become victim to this type of servitude if we don't start focusing on governing ourselves.

    Meanwhile on the other side as Panafrica pointed out;the farmlands Nambia (sp?) are being taken from the white farmers to settle hundreds of thousands of black people.

    Do we think the President doesn't know that and that he doesn't have his plans.
     
  4. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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  5. watzinaname

    watzinaname Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Well, I read this, twice. Once yesterday and again today. The more things change, the more they stay the same. How many more months will the Black people of New Orleans actually still be going through trauma, while the media tries to tell us differently? I have no more words for this...Thank you oldsoul for bringing this history to our attention.
     
  6. Therious

    Therious Banned MEMBER

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    Thanls old soul, this was a needed post.
     
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