From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Race Riot of 1917 (Lexington, KY)

On September 1, 1917 a race riot broke out in Lexington, KY, one of the many riots that took place across the United States between 1917 and 1921. The country was at war abroad while at home tensions had escalated because of demands for civil rights; the Great Migration North had created employment and housing competition between the races.

The day of the Lexington riot an extremely large number of African Americans were in the city, having arrived for the week of activities at the Colored A. & M. Fair held on Georgetown Pike; the colored fair in Lexington was one of the largest in the South.

At the same time, National Guard troops were camped on the edge of the city. On the day of the riot, three National Guard troops were passing in front of an African American restaurant, shoving aside people on the sidewalk. A fight broke out and reinforcements arrived for both sides, leading to a riot.

The Kentucky National Guard was summoned; once calm was restored, armed soldiers on foot as well as mounted soldiers patrolled the streets along with the police. All other National Guard troops were removed from the city streets for the duration of the fair.

The story of the riot was carried in newspapers across the United States. For more see "Race rioting in Lexington," The Ogden Standard, 9/1/1917, p. 13; and "Race riot in Lexington," Raleigh Herald, 9/7/1917, p. 6.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Colored A. & M. Fair Association
NKAA Source: The Ogden standard (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Raleigh herald (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Race Riot of 1917 (Lexington, KY),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 21, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-07-31 16:47:50