The Hough Riots in Cleveland, Ohio “1966”

0 Posted by - November 10, 2021 - Black History, History, Injustices, LATEST POSTS

The Hough Riots occurred in the predominantly black community of Hough in Cleveland, Ohio. The riots took place from July 18 to July 23, 1966. During these riots, four African Americans were killed and 50 other people injured. There were numerous arrest and incidents of arson and firebombing that took place.

In the 1950s, working-class blacks moved into the Hough area of Cleveland and the white people moved out. By 1966, there were over 66, 000 people in this area and ninety percent of them were black. Those living in the area were limited to segregated schools, no routine garbage collection, filthy streets and poor delivery of welfare benefits. Single mothers, half who were teenagers bore one-third of the children in Hough at this time. The police force at the time was racially segregated with 165 police officers African American out of two-thousand, this also helped lead to interracial tension. At this time about twenty percent of Cleveland’s crimes were being committed in Hough.

The Start of the Riot

A white-owned bar, The Seventy-Niner’s Cafe operated at the southeast corner of E. 79th Street and Hough Avenue, and popular with African American residents of the community. Seventy-Niner’s suffered from a number of problems, including drug dealing, the sale of stolen goods, and prostitution, and the owners had begun barring certain individuals from the establishment. Margaret Sullivan, a prostitute and her friend Louise, who was black, was also banned.

Sullivan died on July 16 and left three small children behind. On July 17, her friend Louise attempted to leave a box at the bar so patrons could donate money for the care of Sullivan’s children. However, the owners refused to allow her to leave the box. She returned at about 5 PM on Monday, July 18. The owners argued with her again this time allegedly using defamatory and racist language, and she was thrown out. Allegedly another incident with an African American trying to get water happened, this resulted in a sign being posted on the front door which read ” NO WATER FOR N****rs!” Incidents from that moment on kept occurring at the bar.

A crowd of angry African Americans gathered at the bar and began throwing rocks at the windows, they eventually tried to burn down the bar. About 8:30 PM, the crowd which included young people, adults, and senior citizens began to move down Hough Avenue, looting stores and setting fires. The fire department responded to the Seventy-Niner’s Café fire and under small arms fire. When the Cleveland Police arrived they were met with rock throwing. After shots were fired the police began to take extreme measures to find the snipers. The rioting died down after a thunderstorm hit the area in the early morning of July 19, only to later pick back up.

By the morning of July 20, about 1,700 National Guardsmen were called into Cleveland. Rioting had continued during the day, with firebombing and vandalism occurring throughout Hough. Even after the National Guardsmen arrived rioting continued for three more days. City officials blamed black nationalist and communist organizations for the riots. But historians dismiss these claims, arguing that the cause of the Hough Riots was primarily poverty and racism.



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