Formulated by James Weldon Johnson, the silent march was intended to be a public response and criticism of lynching and racial violence committed against African American communities in the United States. Earlier that summer, violence in East St. Louis killed many African Americans and savaged the black community. Threatened by a growing African American labor force, a group of white men gathered in the downtown area of East St. Louis in May 1917 and began attacking and beating unsuspecting African Americans. In July, an armed white mob drove into black residential areas and opened fire on men, women, and children; when black residents shot back, a police officer was killed, which triggered more violence. Armed white mobs flooded the black community, shooting black residents as they fled, hanging black people from street lamps, and burning black homes and businesses to the ground.
UPTON: We are all paying for it. The flood insurance program is currently more than $20 million in arrears. And so, there have been attempts to reform this flood insurance program. The problem is what Congress discovered is that once you take these subsidies away, the homeowners, the voters suddenly see very sudden and substantial increases in their insurance rates and they’re suddenly paying what the market would have to offer and that’s very unpopular, it’s a very hard thing to change now that we got that in place.