Banished from Johnstown

Banished from Johnstown: Racist Backlash in Pennsylvania


Praise for the book

“Cody McDevitt has breathed new life into the complicated story of the Rosedale “Riot” in Johnstown and the tensions created in this industrial city once the steel plant found it necessary to recruit Southern African-Americans to perform the unskilled tasks previously done by East Central European immigrants.” – Richard Burkert, president, Johnstown Area Heritage Association

“Cody’s McDevitt’s “Banished from Johnstown” is a reminder that the unthinkable can and has happened here: In 1923, 2,000 African-Americans and Mexican immigrants were ordered by the city’s mayor to leave their homes and jobs in Johnstown. McDevitt, a veteran journalist, looks at how and why this injustice happened in a state north of the Mason-Dixon Line.” – Len Barcousky, retired Pittsburgh-Post-Gazette reporter and author of a Southwestern Pennsylvania history trilogy.

“Cody McDevitt vividly narrates the complexities of anti-black and anti-Mexican racism in the context of a decade of swirling social changes in the Great Migration of black southerners to industrial Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where authority figures and others in pursuit of political power promoted racial antagonism that erupted in the Rosedale Riot in 1923. Narrating the lives of black, white, and Mexican townspeople, McDevitt informs readers that racial conflict and efforts at ethnic cleansing in Johnstown reflected central themes of race and class across the nation from Reconstruction to early twenty-first century America.” — Charles Lloyd Lumpkins, Teaching Assistant Professor, Penn State University, School of Labor and Employment Relations

“Cody McDevitt has filled in yet another box in the checkered history of racial cleansings in America. It is also one of the strangest stories to emerge. After a shootout that killed or wounded several police, the eccentric mayor of Johnstown, Pennsylvania started a one man crusade to drive out all blacks who moved to the city after 1917. It did not go well.” –Elliot Jaspin, Pulitzer Prize winner, Author of “Buried in the Bitter Waters: The Hidden History of Racial Cleansing in America”

“Cody McDevitt has brought to life a little recognized tragic episode in African American and Johnstown history. Recalling the national debate about race and constitutional rights and the willingness to express dictatorial rule over Black lives by white elected officials was not just a scene in large urban areas, but the small mid-American heartland as well.” –Samuel W. Black, Director, African-American Program, Senator John Heinz History Center