History of the Civil Rights movement By Cristina Vignone
Racial conflict was not new to New York City when Harlem’s first race riot erupted in 1935. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of anti-black hostility occurred in July 1863 following the Enrollment Act of the Civil War. Thousands of people were injured and seventeen black men were lynched after the draft riot subsided. New York “ranked second among northern cities in Negro population,” and white urbanites feared that emancipation of the “intellectually and morally inferior…sub-species of the human race” would threaten life as they knew it. As “the center of the city’s African American population from the 1900s onward,” by 1930 Harlem had “an almost entirely black community numbering more than 200,000.” Discontent was widespread: white prejudice meant that business owners refused to hire blacks leading to high unemployment rates. Living conditions in tenements were terrible and thousands of black city residents occupied makeshift homes in building cellars and basements.
The spark that brought blacks and whites to the streets in 1935 was the rumor that Lino Rivera, a sixteen-year-old black Puerto Rican, had been beaten by an employee at the Kress Five and Ten store after Rivera had tried to shoplift a 10-cent penknife.
The employee admitted to intending to “‘beat the hell out of’” Rivera, and Rivera acknowledged that he had bitten the hand of the employee in the struggle, which led police to call an ambulance. When it and a hearse coincidently arrived at the scene, a rumor circulated among a small gathered mob that Rivera had been murdered. The mob increased in size, stores were looted and vandalized, over 600 windows were smashed and agitation continued until the next day. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia enlisted a committee headed by sociologist E. Franklin Frazer to examine the riot.
Their report, “The Negro in Harlem: A Report on Social and Economic Conditions Responsible for the Outbreak of March 19, 1935,” identifies “injustices of discrimination in employment, the aggressions of the police, and the racial segregation” as the main causes of racial tension in Harlem.
 Roberta Senechal de la Roche, The Sociogenesis of a Race Riot: Springfield, Illinois, in 1908, 2. James M. McPherson and James K. Hogue, Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2010), 339.
(Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 1990), 10
 A. Hunter Dupree and Leslie H. Fishel, Jr., “An Eyewitness Account of the New York Draft Riots, July, 1863,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review , Vol. 47, No. 3 (Dec., 1960), pp. 472-479, 473.
 Neil A. Wynn, The A to Z of the Roosevelt-Truman Era Issue 103 (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, 2009), 191.
 Walter C. Rucker, James N. Upton, Encyclopedia of American race riots Volume 1 of Encyclopedia of American Race Riots (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007), 265-6.