S2 E9: A Racial Cleansing in America

May 31, 2017

In 1919, a white mob forced the entire black population of Corbin, Kentucky, to leave, at gunpoint. It was one of many racial expulsions in the United States. What happened, and how such racial cleansings became “America’s family secret.” 


Image: Train track in Corbin, Kentucky. Photo by John Biewen

Download a transcript of the episode.

The history of Corbin as presented by the Corbin city government, with no mention of the 1919 racial expulsion.

Elliot Jaspin’s book, Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansings in America

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13 comments on “S2 E9: A Racial Cleansing in America

  1. PapaRasta Dec 4, 2017

    Timely podcast

  2. Pete Haskell Dec 17, 2017

    Yes…. interesting story but have you ever asked yourself why does that only white countries need diversity it seems that diversity is code for anti-white

    • Michael Broady Oct 15, 2020

      I agree, diversity goes 2 ways. Its important to realize that the ability to diversify requires means, money, law and policy. Banks loans, mortgage companies, the process of red lining, and overall institutional baked in Racsim…makes it difficult for blacks to move into white neighborhoods. I don’t see many white folks wanting to move to black neighborhoods.

    • L. M. Gaitet Nov 1, 2020

      LOL! Just take a minute and think about it. Can you name a country not colonized by white people?

  3. It’s been nearly 100 years since Corbin, KY…we haven’t come very far have we?

  4. The Horror of Racial Cleansing in Kentucky. (and elsewhere)
    TELL TALE : Whites ashamed or uncomfortable telling a blackman they were from Corbin.

    It is a shame CURRENT DAY WHITE people do not want to come to terms with such – they could make a CLEAR monument to the tragedy of white cleansing etc.

  5. Brian K Freeland May 25, 2020

    History is a veil many people fear to uncover!

  6. Lina Soares Jun 4, 2020

    Thank you for this podcast and your exploration of the topic. I deeply appreciate being able to listen and wrestle with what it means to be white; to wonder how I can stop embodying white, the perpetuation of oppression, colonialism, exploitation. Especially now.

  7. Mike Sperl Jun 21, 2020

    Very interesting. My daughter in law is from Corbin, so I have been there a few times. Downtown is busy and the people are friendly.

  8. Alison Toney Jul 16, 2020

    I am listening to, and fascinated by, this series, but the Corbin town history link has some information about the “Terrible Calamity” in 1919 now, just FYI.

  9. Alison Jul 16, 2020

    Your link to the town history shows that they have now included information about the “Terrible Calamity” of 1919.

  10. Troy Payne Aug 12, 2020

    The town history of Corbin linked to above now (2020.08.12) includes a paragraph on the subject mob violence.

    According to information available from the Internet Archive (archive.org) the paragraph appears in the archives 2019.12.10 snapshot of that web page, but not the previous 2017.10.01 snapshot.

    The new paragraph reads:

    “Corbin was the site of what was considered the “Terrible Calamity”, where on the Evening of October 30th, 1919, an armed mob led by L&N brakeman “Pistol Pete” Rogers terrorized the town by rounding up between 200-300 African-American men, women, and children and forcibly removed them from town on rail cars headed for Knoxville, TN and Louisville, KY. In 1920, Joseph B. Snyder successfully tried and convicted Pete Rogers of confederating and he served two years in the state penitentiary for his crimes. This story serves as a testament to Corbin’s history of tragedy and it’s constant fight to re-affirm equality and justice for all citizens.”

  11. Marguerite Nov 4, 2020

    Thank you for this podcast. Interesting to hear how Corbin, KY, created a “fable” about its history, even though the local newspaper did publish an account about the mob running the Negroes out of town. Also interesting to hear how Laura Smith attempted to address that “wrong” all these years later by creating a display about the event in the Corbin library. A reminder that it is never too late to tell the Truth… “and the Truth will set you free… “