Despite horrific destruction and overwhelming social pressure, there were instances of humanity that reached beyond racial lines.
Allies in Springfield, Illinois
Leroy Brown shares his memories of the night of the riot in an interview and memoir found in the Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield.
He lived at his employers' home, but they were out of town, and their son was fearful of the home being attacked if the mob knew that an African American was on the premises. He was taken in and hidden in the basement by a Mr. Leach, from Kentucky, who also gave him temporary work until his employers returned.
Brown, LeRoy - Interview and Memoir - Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield - Illinois Digital Archives (idaillinois.org) - http://www.idaillinois.org/digital/collection/uis/id/1299/rec/3
Allies in Bloomington, Indiana
The Indiana Public Media news report “Black History in Southern Indiana: Racially Restricitive Housing Covenants in Bloomington” recounts the struggles of two African American men facing discrimination finding housing. According to that WTIU news report, racial covenants were common in housing deeds in Bloomington and along with social pressure kept home ownership a primarily white venture . One man befriended a white lawyer before moving into the area who smoothed the way for him. The other, a Korean War veteran, who moved to Bloomington to work for Otis Elevator, after several frustrating incidents of discrimination, eventually received an offer from a Jehovah's Witness out preaching who was a builder and offered to build a house for him if he could find a lot to purchase - and this was the means by which he was able to own a home.
Allies in Rosewood, Florida
In January 1923 white vigilantes destroyed the nearly all-black town of Rosewood, terrorizing its residents. Only the homes of two white families remained untouched. One of the families, John Wright and his wife, who operated a general store and had no children of their own, protected black residents and their children from further violence and acted as liaisons to Black residents hiding in the swamps, providing them with food.
Seven-year-old Lee Ruth Davis managed to get the Wright store. She is quoted as saying:
"I was laying that deep in water, that is where we sat all day long. . . . We got down on our bellies and crawled. We tried to keep people from seeing us through the bushes . . . We were trying to get back to Mr. Wright's house. After we got all the way to his house, Mr. and Mrs. Wright were all the way out in the bushes hollering and calling us, and when we answered they were so glad."
Two white train conductors on the local railroad, brothers John and William Bryce, who had come to know all the residents of Rosewood over the years, brought the train to Rosewood to evacuate the women and children who were staying at the Wright house. Then they drove the train slowly up the tracks, blowing its horn as a signal to those who were hiding in the woods. The Bryces only took women and children, afraid that white gangs roving around the area might attack the train if they found out that black men were on board. The survivors of the riot who escaped on the train were taken in by Gainesville's African American community.
Davis recalled the kindness the survivors received in Gainesville:
“We pulled into the Gainesville Seaboard Station. It was jammed packed. You know, everyone was hollering and crying, and saying that they put us on the train. So many sheets covered with blood around them and everything. So people started saying I am going to take five or six. To take them to their homes and give them a place to stay. . . . Gainesville really looked out for us."
Allies in Tulsa, Oklahoma
An African American resident of Greenwood, Richard Hill, who survived the Tulsa race massacre, and one of his friends, describes the ordeal he faced during the Tulsa Race Massacre. He talks about taking shelter at the Convention Hall. His friend Arthur Claus, a fellow congregation member and white man went to check on his home and was met by another white man holding a rifle who demanded to know why he was entering Mr. Hill's yard. This was a neighbor who was there protecting Hill's property. Assuring the neighbor that he was not a rioter, they jointly protected Mr. Hill's home from the mob.
Later, Mr. Claus was able to get permission from the National Guard for Mr. Hill and his family to be released from the Convention Center, after which he took Mr. Hill and his family to his home for protection until the violence subsided.