While perceived as a mostly southern phenomenon, racist violence existed everywhere in the decades following the Civil War – including Kansas and the larger Midwest despite the region’s identification with pastoral virtue and racial harmony.
In a discussion of his new book This Is Not Dixie: Racist Violence in Kansas, 1861-1927, University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley associate professor Brent M.S. Campney exposes the reality of the era. There were systemic and enduring white-on-black abuses in Kansas, from sensational demonstrations of white power such as lynchings and race riots to property damage, rape, forcible removal from town, and other, more routine means of intimidation. The South’s reputation offered cover, allowing commentators to deem each Midwest episode an anomaly and cultivate a sort of historical amnesia.