Riot History

Source Type: Newspaper

On July 4, 1930 the Robinson family and friends were fellowshipping at Jones Chapel in Emelle, Alabama.  Reverend John Robinson was pastor.

However, Ollie Robinson (son of Tom Robinson) decided to return a battery back to the country store and asked his cousin Dock Robinson to accompanied him.  When Ollie and Dock arrived at the store, Dock decide to wait in the car and Ollie went  inside.

Unfortunately, Ollie encountered difficulty reaching a settlement for a replacement of the battery with the owner, Mr. Stigal.  Consequently, the two argued and later became physical with one another.  Coincidentally, Tom (Ollie’s father) was in the store along with his brother John. John, whom was a known marksman tried to break up Ollie and Mr. Stigal from fighting but was unsuccessful thus, he fired his gun to try to end the fighting.

On the other hand, several white men were gathering together quickly in the store when they heard the gunshots and asked no question but instead began firing their guns randomly.  John and Ollie escaped together unharmed, but their father Tom was separated from them but managed to escape gun fire by running across nearby railroad tracks.

Meanwhile, Dock was still sitting in the car during all of this and was bewildered as to what was going on.  Luckily for Dock, a familiar face walked toward his car and briefly told him that some type of disturbance occurred in the store with his cousin  Ollie and the store owner Mr. Stigal.  He told him that the two began fighting and that the whites were reacting to hearing gunshots shot within Mr. Stigal’s store and took matters into their own hands without asking questions. He advised Dock to leave immediately.

Nevertheless, this incident lead into a more violent nature.  Later that afternoon, several white men were forming posse and vowing to take revenge on the niggers that gave “Poor Mr. Stigal such brutal treatment and disrespect.”  The vowed that they had to take action…and action they did take!

Within, that same evening, a group of angry, belligerent white men came to the home of Reverend John Robinson.  Rev. John Robinson was sitting on his porch with his shotgun resting on his lap. The white men ordered Rev. Robinson to leave his home and to never return.  John replied: “White folks, I have not done nothing and I ain’t going no where!”  The angry white mob became more angrier and vicious.  They quickly disarmed Rev. Robinson and killed him instantly.  Emanuel (Rev. John Robinson’s son ) came running out of the house crying hysterically “You’ve killed my father.”  The mob without remorse coldly open fire on Emanuel, shooting him in the face and hand.  They proceeded to set the house on fire.  The family members that were inside fled for their lives quietly into the thickness of the woods. (Each child pairing off into pairs).

Fortunately, Emanuel did not die from the gunshot wound but was helped with his wounds by his brother Dock as the two begin to seek safety into the woods.  The two were attempting to make it to another relative’s house “Uncle Wily Richardson.”  They believed should they make it to their Uncle Willy’s house they would be safe.

Nevertheless, the angry mob continued their violent savage behavior against the Robinson Family.  The family received word that another family member had become a victim of the mob’s revenge.  Esau Robinson a family member had been hung.  The surviving brother left their Uncle Willy’s house to incur further safety, for the men were seeking to destroy all offspring’s of the Robins bloodline.  The young men continued to seek safety in the woods and various individuals were kind in providing them with food and water.

However, the search continued and the mob captured four of the boys (Emanuel, Dock, James and King).  the angry white mob threatened abused and taunted the young men.

As a matter of fact, they went as far as to boast and point out the tree in which they hung Essau. A white man had been shot while they were terrorizing and attempting to capture the boys and therefore the mob felt that one of the four boys would admit to have had shot one of their men.  When the men realized that regardless of what they said or did, WOULD NOT make the boys talk.  They released them.  The identity as to who shot the white man was never known.

Nevertheless, the mob continued to seek revenge upon the Robinson family.  Thus, it was necessary for some Robinson family members to leave town and start their lives over across the United States in various locations.  A lot of Robinson family members had escaped underground and changed their names to ensure safety for themselves and their families. Uncle Tom was able to remain free for years but grew tired of living the life of a fugitive and turned himself in to authorities.  He served a prison term for several years.  During Uncle Tom’s sentence term he contributed toward the development of fellow blacks within prison and began to teach Sunday School.  He was released from Prisons in 1953