Long, hot summer of 1967

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Long, hot summer of 1967
Part of the Civil Rights Movement
and Ghetto riots
Film on the riots created by the White House Naval Photographic Unit
DateSummer of 1967
Resulted inKerner Commission established

The long, hot summer of 1967 refers to the more than 150 race riots that erupted across the United States in the summer of 1967.[2][3][4] In June there were riots in Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Tampa. In July there were riots in Birmingham, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Newark, New Britain, New York City, Plainfield, Rochester, and Toledo.

The most destructive riots of the summer took place in July, in Detroit and Newark; many contemporary newspapers headlines described them as "battles".[5] As a result of the rioting in the summer of 1967 and the preceding two years, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Kerner Commission to investigate the rioting and urban issues of Black Americans.[6]


A history of institutionalized unemployment, abusive policing, and poor housing was already present in certain areas of the United States. Riots began to flare up across the country but especially during the summer months. With rioting in urban areas across the country, and the Summer of Love occurring in hippie communities,[7] Americans were witnessing US troop movements in the Vietnam War shown on the nightly television news. At the end of July, President Lyndon B. Johnson set up the Kerner Commission to investigate the riots; in 1968 it released a report blaming pervasive societal inequalities in American ghettos for the riots. By September 1967, 83 people were dead, thousands were injured, tens of millions of dollars worth of property had been destroyed and entire neighborhoods had been burned.[8]


It is in the context of having been through the "long, hot, summer" that in December 1967, Miami police chief Walter E. Headley uttered the now-infamous phrase, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts", after which Frank Rizzo, Richard Daley and George Wallace also spoke out in favor of a hardline approach towards looters and rioters.[9] The Republicans, although a minority party in the House of Representatives, were split over how to respond to the rioting, despite common historiographical perceptions which depict them as being entirely in favor of a "law and order" styled approach.[10]

In early July 1967, the Justice Department met with local media to ask for "restraint in reporting".[11] In December of the same year, The New York Times asked a psychologist about "deterrents" and was told that the riots would continue.[12]


In a March 1968 Harris poll reported in The Washington Post, 37% of Americans agreed with the Kerner Commission's report that the 1967 race riots were brought on mainly by inequalities; 49% disagreed. A majority of whites (53%) rejected the idea, with just 35% agreeing. In contrast, 58% of blacks supported it, and only 17% disagreed.[13]

Political response[edit]

Throughout the summer that year, both the Republican and Democratic parties were split on how to handle the riots. In both parties two factions existed: one that advocated for law and order, and another that supported an approach based on social justice. Democrats held the majority of seats in both Houses of Congress while the Republicans held the minority. Despite common historiographical perceptions that depict the Republicans as being entirely in favor of a "law and order" styled approach to the riots, there was division in the party. President Johnson's popularity levels decreased that summer because of the riots.[10]

During July, conservatives in the Republican Party dominated its response to the riots. Republicans believed this would be an opportunity to attack President Johnson and his War on Poverty initiative. Many Republicans would end up blaming Johnson for what happened that summer and many supported cutting back on programs that benefited urban areas.[14] In the Senate, Republicans took a largely different approach that month than those who were in the House with most Republican Senators supporting supported Johnson's anti urban poverty programs.[15]

In the 1968 presidential primaries, the two factions of law and order along with social justice would clash in the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan would orientate himself as a law and order candidate, Nelson Rockefeller siding with the justice faction and Richard Nixon catering to both factions. Nixon would end up emerging victorious. Nixon called to control crime, scale back the War on Poverty and encourage black capitalism as a way to "restore urban areas".[16]

List of riots[edit]

Some of the riots include:

Location Date Deaths Injured Arrested Notes[17]
Omaha, NE 1. April 1 0 21 "About 200 Negro youths smashed windows, looted stores, damaged police cars."
Nashville, TN 2. April 8 - 10 0 Several 100 "Negro college students rioted three successive nights after a speech by "black power" leader Stokely Carmichael."
Louisville, KY 3. April 11 - Mid-June 0 700 "Negro demonstrations for open housing drew harassment from whites who threw rocks and bottles... National Guardsmen protected the Kentucky Derby."
Cleveland, OH 4. April 16 0 "Negro youths smashed windows and looted stores in Hough area, scene of 1966 rioting."
Wichita, KA 5. May 2 - 3 0 "Negro high-school youths battled white students."
Jackson, MS 6. May 12 1 Several "National Guardsmen restored order after two nights of rioting near predominately Negro college. One killed, several injured."
San Francisco, CA 7. May 14 - 15 0 14+ 29+ "Negroes rioted at amusement park... Negroes looted downtown jewelry store."
Houston, TX 8. May 17 1 500 "One policeman killed, four persons were rounded in rioting on Negro-college campus. Nearly 500 students arrested."
Vallejo, CA 9. May 21 0 "Negroes stoned cars, snipers battled police after a drag race was broken up."
San Diego, CA 10. May 21 0 38 "Police arrested 38 in breaking up riot at a rock-and-roll concert."
Chicago, IL 11. May 21 0 10 "Ten persons, including three policemen, injured at melee at "Black Nationalist" ceremony."
Chicago, IL 12. May 30 0 37 "Police arrested 37 in racial battle."
Boston, MA 13. June 2 - 5 0 100 73 "Damage estimated at 2 million dollars (equivalent to $16,253,493 in 2021). National Guard restored order."
Clearwater, FL 14. June 3 0 10 "Negroes attacked police; 10 persons arrested."
Tampa, FL 15. June 11 - 14 2 100+ "National Guard was used to quell rioting in which one Negro and a white policeman died. More than 100 arrested, damage 2 million dollars (equivalent to $16,253,493 in 2021)."
Prattville, AL 16. June 11 0 4 10 "National Guard sent in after Negro gunman battled police following the arrest of Stokely Carmichael."
Cincinnati, OH 17. June 12 - 19 1 63 404 "Caused one death, many injures, upward of 3 million dollars (equivalent to $24,380,240 in 2021) in damages and 400 arrests. It took National Guardsmen to quell first uprising."
Montgomery, AL 18. June 12 0 "National Guardsmen turned back Negroes marching on State Capitol in a protest against the jailing of Stokely Carmichael in nearby Prattville."
Los Angeles, CA 19. June 13 0 "Negroes pelted firemen rocks and bottles in and near the Watts area, scene of a massive riot in 1965."
Philadelphia, PA 20. June 13 0 4+ 25 "Four policemen hurt, 25 arrests, in rock and bottle throwing over 12-block area."
Maywood, IL 21. June 14 0 "Negro youngster broke store windows in riot demanding a swimming pool."
Dayton, OH 22. June 14 - 17 0 "An outburst of window smashing, fire-setting, and looting followed a speech by H. Rap Brown, head of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee."
Middletown, OH 23. June 14 0 4 "Negro youths threw rocks at cars, stores, and homes. Four arrested."
Lansing, MI 24. June 16 0 3 2 "Three hurt, two arrested as Negro gangs hurled rocks and bottles at police."
Atlanta, GA 25. June 17 - 20 1 22 13 "Four days of disorder followed arrest of Stokely Carmichael. One killed, three injured."
Roanoke, VA 26. June 23 0 Several 9 "A near-riot in Negro business section injured several. Nine arrested."
Buffalo, NY 27. June 26 - July 1 0 100 200 "About 100 were injured, 200 arrested, damage was estimated at $250,000 (equivalent to $2,031,687 in 2021) in three nights of vandalism, arson, and looting."
Cincinnati, OH 28. July 3 - 5 0 One of 3 race-related riots that took place in 1967 in Cincinnati.
Los Angeles, CA 29. July 6 0 "Negroes pelted firemen rocks and bottles in and near the Watts area, scene of a massive riot in 1965."
Des Moines, IA 30. July 9 - 10 0 6 "Negro gangs threw rocks and bottles. Six arrested."
Kansas City, MO 31. July 9 0 1 11 "Tear gas dispersed Negroes who broke windows, attacked police cars. One hurt, 11 arrested."
Waterloo, IA 32. July 9 - 10 0 5 "Five hurt in two nights of minor disturbances."
Newark, NJ 33. July 12 - 16 27 727 1465 "Five days of fire-bombing, looting, and sniping left 27 dead, more than 1100 injured, more than 1300 under arrest, with damage estimated above 15 million dollars (equivalent to $121,901,198 in 2021). National Guard and State police helped local police quell the rioting."
Plainfield, NJ 34. July 14 - 16 1 150 Spillover from Newark riots. "In Plainfield, rioting Negroes kicked and shot a white policeman to death, looted 90 stores; National Guardsmen were used."
Irvington, NJ 35. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Orange, NJ 36. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
East Orange, NJ 37. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Montclair, NJ 38. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Ashbury Park, NJ 39. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
New Brunswick, NJ 40. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Elizabeth, NJ 41. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Paterson, NJ 42. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots.
Jersey City, NJ 43. ~July 14 0 Spillover from Newark riots. "In Jersey City, violence ended quickly after mayor took a tough stand."
Hartford, CT 44. July 14 0 11+ 20 "Eleven policemen were hurt, 20 Negroes arrested as gangs threw bricks and fire bombs."
Erie, PA 45. July 14 0 One of 3 outbursts of arson and brick-throwing in Erie.
Des Moines, IA 46. July 16 0 "Recurring violence."
Fresno, CA 47. July 16 0 1 "An antipoverty worker was wounded by gunshot. Bombs caused 23 fires."
Greenwood, NC 48. July 17 0 "Negroes and whites battled with rocks after police charged five whites with terrorizing a Negro minister in his home."
Cairo, IL 49. July 17 - 21 0 "National Guardsmen went in after repeated vandalism, arson and looting."
Erie, PA 50. July 18 0 One of 3 outbursts of arson and brick-throwing in Erie.
Nyack, NY 51. July 19 0 "Police marched in a phalanx through the streets to break up bands of Negro marauders."
Minneapolis, MN 52. July 19 - 24 0 24 26 "National Guardsmen were sent in to quell an outbreak of violence. Fire damage was estimated at about 1 million dollars (equivalent to $8,126,747 in 2021)." Total damage was about 4.2 million dollars (equivalent to $34,132,335 in 2021).
Durham, NC 53. July 19 0 3 "Two Negroes were wounded by gunshots from passing car. National Guard stood watch over Negro protest march. One hurt, windows broken, bricks tossed at motorists by Negroes and whites."
Lakeland, FL 54. July 20 0 "Negro youths hurled fire bombs into white-owned grocery stores."
Bridgeton, NJ 55. July 21 0 "A window-breaking spree followed the arrest of a Negro."
Hattiesburg, MS 56. July 22 0 27 "Police arrested 27 Negroes for disturbing peace in a boycott of stores."
Wadesboro, NC 57. July 22 0 1+ "Negroes went on rock-throwing rampage after a Negro was shot and run over by a car."
Youngstown, OH 58. July 22 0 "Negroes threw dynamite and fire bombs, harassed police and firemen."
Englewood, NJ 59. July 22 - 24 0 "Several nights of violence. At one point, 100 policemen were pinned down by sniper cross fire."
Houston, TX 60. July 23 0 "Negroes roamed streets in gangs, set three fires with fire bombs."
Detroit, MI 61. July 23 - 28 43 1189 7231 "Some 1,600 fires were set, 1,700 stores looted. Estimates of property damage range from 250 (equivalent to $2,031,686,627 in 2021) to 500 million dollars (equivalent to $4,063,373,253 in 2021). More than 4,000 were arrested, U.S. Army troops and National Guardsmen went in to aid local police." While news reports put costs from damage in the hundreds of millions, investigations have put estimates of property damage costs at 40 to 45 million (equivalent to $406,337,325 in 2021).[18]
Grand Rapids, MI 62. July 23 - 25 0 Spillover from Detroit riot. "National Guardsmen and State police were sent in as fire-bombing and looting went on for several days."
Pontiac, MI 63. ~July 23 2 25 Spillover from Detroit riot. "Two Negroes were killed, one by a State legislator protecting his store; 25 Negroes arrested; 40 fires set; gun shops looted."
Flint, MI 64. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Kalamazoo, MI 65. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Mount Clemens, MI 66. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Muskegon, MI 67. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Benton Harbor, MI 68. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Albion, MI 69. ~July 23 0 Spillover from Detroit riot.
New York City, NY 70. July 23 - 30 4 29+ 32+ "Two were killed in repeated riots in "Spanish Harlem. ...Negroes smashed windows and looted shops on Fifth Avenue. ...Negro violence broke out in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant section; 32 arrested."
Toledo, OH 71. July 23 - 25 0 50+ 180 "Negro rampage brought in National Guard with orders to shoot to kill."
Birmingham, AL 72. July 23 0 11 70+ "National Guardsmen helped police quell rioting; 11 hurt, more than 70 arrested."
New Britain, CT 73. July 23 0 "Police sealed a Negro area after attack on a white motorist."
Rochester, NY 74. July 23 - 24 2 "Violence spread outside Negro areas as white and Negro gangs raided each other's neighborhoods. Two Negroes killed; $60,000 damage (equivalent to $487,605 in 2021)."
Tucson, AZ 75. July 23 - 24 0 "Negroes fought police two nights in Tucson."
Lima, OH 76. July 23 0 21 "Police arrested 21 Negro youths after window-breaking rampage."
Waukegan, IL 77. July 23 - 25 0 "Police rushed in from neighboring cities to help quell two days of vandalism."
Cambridge, MD 78. July 24 0 "National Guardsmen were sent in after night of rioting and shooting in which a Negro section was gutted by fire. Outbreak followed a speech by SNCC leader "Rap" Brown, who was later arrested, charged with inciting to riot."
Saginaw, MI 79. July 26 0 7 50 Spillover from Detroit riot.
Phoenix, AZ 80. July 26 0 2 days after the rioting in Tucson ended, it erupted again in Phoenix.
Mount Vernon, NY 81. July 26 0 "Rock-throwing, looting."
South Bend, IN 82. July 26 0 "National Guard was sent in after roving Negro gangs fought police, looted stores."
Marin City, CA 83. July 26 0 "Negroes set fires, shot at firemen. Three persons wounded."
Sacramento, CA 84. July 26 - 27 0 "Store windows were smashed, fire bombs thrown. A school was set on fire."
San Francisco, CA 85. July 27 - 28 0 "Two nights of hit-and-run violence; white youth shot by Negroes."
Cincinnati, OH 86. July 27 0 One of 3 race-related riots that took took place in 1967 in Cincinnati.
Philadelphia, PA 87. July 27 0 "After new outbreak of vandalism, Mayor declared a state of "limited emergency."
Alton, IL 88. July 27 0 "A cab driver was wounded and two police cars were pelted with buckshot by a gang of Negroes. Supermarket windows were broken."
New Rochelle, NY 89. July 27 0 "Negro youths returning from a community-action program threw rocks through windows and looted stores."
Lorain, OH 90. July 27 0 "National Guardsmen were sent in after a wave of vandalism and fire-bombing."
Albany, NY 91. July 27 0 Vandalism spreads to upstate New York.
Poughkeepsie, NY 92. July 27 0 Vandalism spreads to upstate New York.
Peekskill, NY 93. July 27 0 Vandalism spreads to upstate New York.
East St. Louis, IL 94. July 27 - 28 0 23 "Two nights of window-smashing and fire-bombing brought 23 arrests."
Passaic, NJ 95. July 27 0 Vandalism spreads through-out the Tri-State area.
Waterbury, CT 96. July 27 0 11+ "At least 11 persons were hurt, including two shot, in outburst of rock-throwing and looting. Police used tear gas."
Seattle, WA 97. July 27 0 "Vandals set at least one fire, tossed rocks and bottles."
Memphis, TN 98. July 27 0 "Violence subsided quickly when National Guard moved into the Memphis area."
Springfield, OH 99. July 27 0 5 "Five persons were arrested after rock-throwing and fire-bombing."
New Castle, PA 100. July 28 - 30 0 "Roving bands of Negro teen-agers threw fire bombs, smashed windows with rocks."
Pasadena, CA 101. Late July 0 "In late July, violence hit suburbs of Los Angeles. Police used a new aerosol tear-gas gun, called the Chemical Mace, and credited it with averting serious trouble."
Long Beach, CA 102. Late July 0 "In late July, violence hit suburbs of Los Angeles. Police used a new aerosol tear-gas gun, called the Chemical Mace, and credited it with averting serious trouble."
San Bernardino, CA 103. Late July 0 "In late July, violence hit suburbs of Los Angeles. Police used a new aerosol tear-gas gun, called the Chemical Mace, and credited it with averting serious trouble."
Wilmington, DE 104. July 28 - 29 0 "City council passed emergency riot-control measures as Negro gangs rampaged."
Newburgh, NY 105. July 29 0 "A neo-Nazi rally touched off a night of smashing, burning and looting by Negroes. Police here also said they were helped in controlling crowd by using the Chemical Mace."
Elgin, IL 106. July 29 0 "Police sealed of five blocks of downtown Elgin after gangs of Negroes began tossing fire bombs, bricks and bottles."
Rockford, IL 107. July 29 - 30 0 11 44 "Two nights of disorders caused 11 injuries, 44 arrests."
Portland, OR 108. July 30 0 115 "National Guard was put on alert as gangs of Negroes roamed through 30 square blocks throwing rocks, smashing store windows."
Rivera Beach, FL 109. July 30 - 31 0 45 "Police fired tear gas to break up a Negro rampage. National Guardsmen were called up, but not used."
East Palo Alto, CA 110. July 30 - 31 0 "Rocks and bottles flew until a patrol of Negro volunteers calmed the situation."
Milwaukee, WI 111. July 30 - August 3 4 100 1740 "National Guardsmen went in to halt Negro rioting that left four persons dead, scores injured. An around-the-clock curfew was imposed, shutting up the city tight."
Wichita, KS 112. July 31 0 "Negroes fire-bombed two stores, stoned police and motorists."
Erie, PA 113. July 31 0 One of 3 outbursts of arson and brick-throwing in Erie.
West Palm Beach, FL 114. July 31 0 46 "Police used tear gas to break up a mob of 400 Negroes. A $350,000 fire led to arrest of 46 under Florida's tough new antiriot law."
Denver, CO 115. July 31 0 "Police arrested a dozen youths a crowd of about 100 Negroes bombarded police with rocks and bottles after breaking shopping center windows."
Providence, RI 116. July 31 - August 1 0 23 14 "Riot squads battled snipers and routed rival gangs of whites and Negroes in two days of violence."
Washington D.C. 117. August 1 0 "The nation's capital... appeared heading for a riot when bands of Negro youths went on a midnight rampage, tossing bottles and bricks, smashing dozens of store windows, setting a dozen small fires. Police, moving in quickly but quietly, restored order before dawn."
Wyandanch, NY 118. August 1 - 0 "Beginning several nights of violence, Negroes roamed business areas, hurling rocks at store windows and police, setting several fires."
Peoria, IL 119. August 2 0 "Police sealed off a Negro housing project when snipers fired at police directing traffic around a fire started by a fire bomb."
Sandusky, OH 120. August 2 0 "Negro teen-agers smashed windows and tossed fire bombs at two shopping centers after a Negro home was fire-bombed and several other Negro homes vandalized by four whites."
Wichita, KS 121. August 4 0 "Renewed violence; Negroes marched on police station and courthouse."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gonsalves, Kelly. "The 'long, hot summer of 1967'". The Week. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  2. ^ McLaughlin 2014, p. 1.
  3. ^ Friedland, Michael B. (1998). Lift Up Your Voice Like a Trumpet: White Clergy and the Civil Rights and Antiwar Movements, 1954–1973. University of North Carolina Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780807846469.
  4. ^ Bould, Mark; Vint, Sherryl (2011). The Routledge Concise History of Science Fiction. Routledge. p. 105. ISBN 9781136820410.
  5. ^ McLaughlin 2014, p. 101.
  6. ^ McLaughlin 2014, p. 39.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (2021). Justice Rising: Robert KennedyÕs America in Black and White. Harvard University Press. p. 346. ISBN 978-0-674-73745-7. The summer of 1967—the “summer of love” for America's youth counterculture—was a “long hot summer” for Black urban Americans, a season of the deadliest and most widespread racial strife in US history. Racial clashes, disorders, and rebellions erupted in an estimated 164 cities in thirty-four states, bringing the nation's crisis to a boil.
  8. ^ Gonsalves, Kelly. "The 'long, hot summer of 1967'". theweek.com. The Week.
  9. ^ Purna Kambhampaty, Anna (June 11, 2020). "How American Power Dynamics Have Shaped Perceptions of Looting, From the Boston Tea Party to Today". Time.
  10. ^ a b McLay 2018.
  11. ^ Graham, Fred P. (July 8, 1967). "Restraint urged in race riot news; U.S. Officials Seek Delays Pending Police Action". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2020. Washington, July 7-- Officials of the Justice Department have been quietly meeting with news media representatives in racially tense cities to urge restraint in reporting racial outbursts, a department spokesman said today.
  12. ^ Burnham, David (December 30, 1967). "New urban riots foreseen in U.S.; Psychologist Contends No Effective Deterrent Exists". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2020. There is no effective deterrent or antidote for the kind of Negro riots that have swept through the North in recent years, and such outbursts will continue "until the well of available cities runs dry," a research psychologist said yesterday.
  13. ^ "The Long Hot Summer: Riots in 1967". ropercenter.cornell.edu. ROPER Center for Public Opinion Research. August 28, 2017.
  14. ^ McLay 2018, pp. 1096–1097.
  15. ^ McLay 2018, p. 1100.
  16. ^ McLay 2018, p. 1109–1110.
  17. ^ "Race Troubles: 109 U.S. Cities Faced Violence in 1967". Retrieved 2022-11-24.
  18. ^ "Michigan State Insurance Commission estimate of December, 1967, quoted in the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders AKA Kerner Report". 1968-02-09. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2022-11-24.


Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial formation in the United States: from the 1960s to the 1990s (1994)
  • Walter C. Rucker and James N. Upton, eds. Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (2007) 930 pages –