DCC Leads Conversation on Elaine Massacre: Hosts Author of On Laps of Gods

September 23, 2018 2:30 PM to September 23, 2018 3:30 PM

Temple Beth-El Heritage Hall - 406 Perry Street, Helena AR

Additional Event Details


Robert Whitaker, author of "On the Laps of Gods:  The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice that Remade a Nation."



The Delta Cultural Center continues the fourth in a series of public conversations on the Elaine Massacre of 1919.Journalist/Author Robert Whitaker will discuss his book “On the Laps of Gods” in which he carefully documents what many historians refer to as one of the worst racial massacres in American history.

It was a tragedy so devastating that it has been shrouded in secrecy and silence for almost a century—until now, Sunday, September 23, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., at Temple Beth-El Heritage Hall, 406 Perry Street, in Helena.

While the actual names and number of the four whites killed are well recorded, a conservative estimate today would put the number of black men, women, and children who were murdered during the tragedy at 237.Other estimates place the number at upward of 500.The names of these were never officially recorded and are now mostly lost in obscurity. Neither were family members allowed to claim the remains of their loved ones.Based on family-lore passed down over the years, there is speculation, that the dead were buried or dumped in woods and swamps around the area en masse.

Eventually, more than 300 blacks suspected of insurrection were jailed.And in trials lasting as little as an hour, twelve of them were convicted of the murder of the four white men—and were sentenced to die in the electric chair.

The State was so sure that the men would lose in their Supreme Court appeals that a carpenter was hired and built coffins for all twelve men.But this is just a part of the story that Whitaker documents in his book.For the whole story join Robert Whitaker for what promises to be a revealing evening that uncovers an unfortunate slice of Phillips County’s history.

Meet and mingle with the author during a reception that will be held immediately following.Food and beverages will be served.For more information contact D. Kyle Miller, director of the Delta Cultural Center at 870.338.4350, or [email protected].Visit the DCC at and at

The DCC’s Elaine Massacre Series is a precursor to the Elaine Massacre Foundation’s public unveiling and dedication of the newly commissioned Elaine Memorial Massacre Monument to remember the slain.This memorial observance is slated for September 2019, at Courthouse Square Park, in downtown Helena.

It is hoped that this ceremonial dedication will be a starting place for constructive dialog that honors, unifies and heals the wounds of a people—a community--affected by what many would agree was a regrettable American atrocity.



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