Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Afro-American Studies

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

John H. Bracey, Jr.

Second Advisor

Toussaint Losier

Third Advisor

Pierre Orelus

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Africana Studies | Ethnic Studies | Jewish Studies | Social History | United States History


The aim of this dissertation is to help to redefine racial riots carried out against the African American community in the United States during the 19th and the early 20th century. I provide an examination to argue for those racial riots to be redefined as pogroms rather than riots. Racial riots that had been carried out against the African American community in the United States often did not get the attention they deserve. The initial framing of those attacks as riots, made it difficult for black victims of those racial riots to seek legal redress or request government assistance. I explore the causal factors that triggered racial riot against the African American community. I examine two racial riots: First is the 1898 Wilmington Riot, which occurred in the Reconstruction era; the second riot is the 1917 East St Louis Riot, which took place in the early 20th century. Juxtaposing these racial riots with the 1881 pogrom, carried out against Jews in Imperial Russia, ensures a foundation for the use of pogrom. My intention is to draw out any parallel that might exist between those racial riots and the 1881 pogrom. Within this dissertation, I argue against the inadequacy of social strain theory. My hope is that this study will help to shift the ways in which we talk about not only those riots, but other 19th and early 20th century racial riots, as well. Scholars of racial riots do not all agree on the term pogrom. Some scholars have argued that many racial riots against the African American community in the United State in the 19th and early 20th century can be characterized as pogroms. Though the term pogrom is rarely used in association with those 19th and early 20th century racial riots, scholars of racial riot violence continue to study the impact that such riots have had on 19th and early 20th century African American communities.