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1946 Columbia Race Riot Historical Marker

  • 117 East 8th Street
  • Columbia, TN 38401
  • Overview

     In February 1946 a struggle between an African American World War II veteran, James Stephenson, and a white shopkeeper over a radio repair order sparked a riot, fueled by law enforcement officers who raided the African American business district without search warrants and confiscated weapons. Police arrested more than 100 African American men, charging 25 with attempted murder. With legal defense team Z. Alexander Looby, Thurgood Marshall, Leon Ranson, and Maurice Weaver, an all-white jury acquitted 23 of the 25 men. Because of this incident and others in the South, President Harry Truman established the President's Committee on Civil rights.