Book Review for Hair's "Carnival of Fury" Essay

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William Ivy Hair., Carnival of Fury: Robert Charles and the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900 (Louisiana State University Press, 1976).

William Ivy Hair's Carnival of Fury elaborates on the life of Robert Charles and the events leading New Orleans to the race riot of 1900. Hair quoted newspaper articles printed during Charles' life to include society's reaction and provide a white-Southern perspective of African Americans. Hair's original objective was to uncover what Charles experienced during his youth, and discover what prompted him to shoot innocent people from the second floor of 1208 Saratoga St. on July 27, 1900. Although the South vilified Charles and deemed him the catalyst for the race riot, Hair sought to clarify
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The most popular afternoon newspaper States, was edited and published by Henry J. Hearsey, an individual who "sincerely hated Negroes," and called for their extermination. (91) The next chapter dealt with testimonies from people who knew Charles while he lived in New Orleans. Charles was keenly interested in the prospect of African migration and for a time advocated it. Charles was described as someone who "deeply resented the disfranchisement of his race in Louisiana." (107). Charles was deeply infuriated when he learned of a gruesome lynching near Newnan, Georgia. This chapter also included Charles exchanging fire with two New Orleans patrolmen and fleeing. The next chapter included Charles' murder of two police officers, and afterward sought refuge at 1208 Saratoga St. The next chapter consists of white rioters beating and murdering innocent people in search of Charles. Finally, the remaining chapters dealt with Charles' ultimate gun battle between he and the whites of New Orleans, and the implications that arose after Charles was killed. Hair states that "If Robert Charles had remained all his life in that remote sharecropper's cabin along Bayou Pierre, New Orleans might still have had a race riot before the summer of 1900 was over." (137) Hair defended this statement with "Hostility between whites and blacks in the city had been mounting for some time, and all the ingredients for an outbreak of racial terror were already

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