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Red Summer

  • Bijou Theatre 803 South Gay Street Knoxville, TN, 37902 United States (map)

The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc., the longest running black theater in the United States, invites you to join them at their upcoming production, Red Summer, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the race riots of 1919 here in Knoxville at the Bijou Theatre!

Red Summer is a drama based on the events that occurred right here in Knoxville, TN during the racially charged Summer of 1919.  It tells the story of a model African American community unable to escape the horrors of mob violence.  

After World War I formally ended in June of 1919, East Tennessee was a place where a trade group proclaimed, “There are no Ku Klux Klan outrages here.  We are a distinct and peculiar people.” However, just 2 short months later around 2:30AM, Bertie Lindsay, a young white woman, was shot and killed in the bedroom of her Knoxville home.  Before dawn, Maurice Mays, a prominent black business owner, was arrested and charged with the crime.  

A lynch mob of about 5,000 looted the county jail (then located in Market Square) in search of Mays and an intense gun battle took place between the rioters and the residence of a predominantly black community.  In just a matter of hours, Knoxville saw its worst race riot, shattering city’s vision of being one of the most racially tolerant towns in the South.  

The production was written by Linda Parris-Bailey, directed by Leilani Chan, and is fully supported by The Roy Cockrum Foundation.

Join The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. as they tell this incredibly important story-a story we cannot allow to die.  

“Forgetting is mighty dangerous.  Someone’s got to bear witness to the truth.”

Earlier Event: August 17
Speed Killed My Cousin
Later Event: October 7
Fall Break Theatre Camp