In the late summer of 1949, a racist mob in upstate New York fiercely assaulted working class blacks and whites at an outdoor concert featuring African-American singer Paul Robeson. Howard Fast, a noted American novelist, was vacationing in the Peekskill area at the time and was appointed chairman of the concert. He was at the scene when concert-goers were attacked by men throwing broken bottles and rocks; swinging clubs and fence posts; and wielding knives and brass knuckles. Shouting racial epithets, the mob was held off only by a show of black and white unity.
Fast was not only an eyewitness to these frightening events, but also, in each of two separate incidents was one the participants. His trained reporter’s eye and narrative skill produced this compelling and detailed you-are-there account of the violence. The present edition recalls that long-forgotten incident—recognized today as a milestone in the civil rights movement.