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The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot

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The 1906 Atlanta Race Riots

The 1906 Atlanta Race Riots

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  • 1. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT SEPTEMBER 22 nd -24 th , 1906
  • 2. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT During the summer of 1906, white fears of African Americans’ increasing economic and social power, sensationalized rhetoric from white politicians, and unsubstantiated news stories about a black crime wave created a powder keg of racial tension in Atlanta.  The powder keg exploded on the night of September 22nd in what became known as The Atlanta Race Riot . By the time the riot ended on September 25th, at least 25 blacks and two whites lay dead.
  • 3. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • POST CIVIL WAR RECONSTRUCTION 1863-1877
      • 14th Amendment is ratified guaranteeing the rights of citizenship to African-Americans.
      • Civil Rights Act of 1875 protects civil rights of African- Americans regardless of previous condition of servitude.
      • African-American businesses, churches, politicians begin to flourish in the Atlanta area; “Black Mecca.”
      • African-American men elected to Georgia Constitutional Congress and Atlanta City Council.
      • African-American laborers essential to rebuilding.
      • Henry Grady coins the term “New South” = whites in control and blacks are subordinate.
      • Georgia passes a Poll Tax to disenfranchise poor white men and African-American men (can’t vote).
  • 4. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • EMERGENCE OF JIM CROW LAWS 1878-1905
    • Republican Party in power in Georgia; 75% of the party is African-American men.
    • Civil Rights Act of 1875 struck down by U.S. Supreme Court.
    • Jim Crow Laws passed by southern states that resulted in social, legal, and political segregation of whites and blacks.
    • Lynchings of African-American men in Georgia on the rise; the fear of “Negro rule” fueling racial tension and terrorism:
      • 1892 = 161 lynchings
      • 1895 = 113 lynchings
      • 1899 = 85 lynchings
      • 1904 = 66 lynchings
  • 5. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • ATLANTA AT TURN OF THE CENTURY
    • Industrialized with white/black workers.
    • Economic diversification.
    • Emergence of a black elite (“ New Black Men” ).
    • Intra-racial class divisions (rich/middle vs. poor).
    • “ Stable” race relations:
      • - Whites in control - African-Americans can’t vote
    • 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition:
      • - The Atlanta Compromise “Separate but Equal” speech given by Booker T. Washington encourages blacks to advance economically but not politically.
  • 6. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • ORIGINS OF SOCIAL UNREST ECONOMIC AND LEGAL
    • Population increases of both white and blacks.
    • Pressure on municipal services (housing, police, fire).
    • Increased job competition among black/white workers.
    • Elite whites feared social intermingling of the races.
    • Jim Crow segregation expanded:
      • Separation of white and black neighborhoods
      • Separate seating areas on public transportation
      • Racial friction/violence…..lynchings
  • 7. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • ORIGINS OF SOCIAL UNREST GOVERNOR’S RACE OF SMITH VS. HOWELL
    • Hoke Smith (winner)
    • Former publisher of the Atlanta Journal; segregation proponent.
    • Ran on a reform platform that included a constitutional amendment for disfranchisement of the African-American male voter. Clark Howell
    • Current editor/publisher of the Atlanta Constitution.
    • Said that the Democratic white primary and the poll tax kept blacks “in their place.”
    • Claimed that Smith was not actually the racial separatist that he claimed to be.
    • Both candidates fan the flame of racism
  • 8. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT ORIGINS OF SOCIAL UNREST ATLANTA’S NEWSPAPERS HELP INCITE RIOT The Atlanta Georgia published editorials on “The Reign of Terror for Southern Women” about ending black crime. The Atlanta Journal stressed crime coverage and reported stories based on rumor and half-truths or fabricated stories. The Atlanta Evening News and The Georgian published many false reports of assaults by black men on white women and other “outrages.” The Atlanta Evening News editor applauded lynchings and supported the Ku Klux Klan. Example headlines: Girls Jumps Into Closet To Escape Negro Brute Half Clad Negro Tries to Break Into House Bold Negro Kisses White Girl’s Hand Negro Knocks Down Aged White Woman: She Dies…
  • 9. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT ORIGINS OF SOCIAL UNREST ATLANTA’S NEWSPAPERS HELP INCITE RIOT Friday, September 21 st : The Atlanta Evening News runs an editorial entitled “IT IS TIME TO ACT, MEN.” Saturday, September 22 nd : Newsboys from some papers stand on downtown street corners with extra editions of the papers outlining four new assaults.
  • 10. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • FOUR DAYS OF RIOTS Saturday, September 22 nd :
    • A mob of over 5000 white men began randomly attacking African-American men, boys and women in downtown Atlanta, pulling them from trolley cars and barbershops and chasing them down streets in the areas of Five Points, Central Avenue, Decatur Street, and Pryor Street.
    • Whites attack two African-American barbers and throw their bodies in an alleyway by the Georgia Railway and Electric Company building. Another man was killed on the Forsyth Street bridge.
    • Violence erupts across the city. Whites dragged the bodies of three black men to the foot of Henry Grady’s statue at Forsythe and Marietta street.
  • 11. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • FOUR DAYS OF RIOTS Saturday, September 22 nd :
    • Whites attack an African-American bicycle messenger who is rescued by the police.
    • Whites attack porters of Pullman cars, pulling one from the car and leaving him for dead on the depot floor.
    • White attacks the African-American occupants of Street Car No. 207, leaving seven men and three women on the floor beaten; three of the men are dead.
    • The Atlanta Fire Department sweeps streets with powerful streams of water to stop the mobs.
    • African-American families hide in homes in the Fourth Ward.
  • 12. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • FOUR DAYS OF RIOTS
    • Sunday, September 23rd:
    • 600 members of the State Militia patrol the streets.
    • African-Americans arm themselves in their homes and on their streets to protect themselves from white mobs.
    • Monday, September 24th:
    • Police try to confiscate guns from African-Americans.
    • Atlanta newspapers conflicting numbers of dead.
    • W.E.B. DuBois writes a poem entitled “Litany of Atlanta.”
  • 13. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • FOUR DAYS OF RIOTS
    • Monday, September 24th:
    • The State Militia and the Governor’s House Guard go to Brownesville, by Clark University, to disarm the residents, students, faculty, and administrators.
    • The Militia and House Guard fight the armed African- Americans in a bloody battle.
    • Atlanta newspapers report that 250+ armed African- Americans were arrested and one killed. No whites were arrested.
    • The militia encircles Clark University campus and searches groups of families for weapons.
    • W.E.B. DuBois writes the poem “Litany of Atlanta.”
  • 14. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • THE AFTERMATH
    • African-American leaders request that the police and the militia provide protection as well as compensation for victims.
    • Leaders of both communities conduct meetings starting on Tuesday, September 25 th to discuss how to restore Atlanta’s image and how to deal with crime. The riot is denounced and a committee formed to raise relief funds for the victims and their families.
    • Prohibition goes into effect.
    • Hundreds of African-Americans leave Atlanta.
    • The last African-American is elected to the state legislature in 1907. A literacy test is required for African-American men during the voting process as part of the effort to continue disenfranchisement.
  • 15. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT
    • THE AFTERMATH
    • The Klu Klux Klan starts activities again throughout the southern states. The Anti-Defamation League starts in 1913 to help fight anti-Semitism.
    • The Atlanta Evening News is censured by a Fulton County grand jury and eventually goes out of business.
    • African-Americans create their own schools, clinics, churches, and reformatories, the Neighborhood Union is formed to promote heritage, fight poverty, etc.
    • African-American elites distance themselves from the African-American lower classes.
    • Further polarization of the races exists when African-Americans establish businesses on Auburn Avenue and housing in west Atlanta.
  • 16. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT KNOWN VICTIMS Shot in Leland’s Barber Shop Henry Welch Gash on forehead Ed Watson Gash on head William Wardlow Stabbed in head and chest Tom Walton Badly cut on Decatur Street G.C. Tomlinson Head and back cut Roy Thomas Eye gouged out; head cut Ben Nelson Shot in the right leg A. C. Moore Stabbed in hip J. C. McCoy Stabbed in hip Walter Jeffers Skull crushed Frank Scudder Fractured skull; died at Grady Hospital Marshall Carter Shot by another black man on Thurman St. Stinson Ferguson Hit on Head Georg Dickerson Shot by officer Frank Fambro Knifed to death on Forsyth Street Bridge Frank Smith Shot; died at Grady Hospital Clem Rhodes Hanged by residents in East Port on Sat. night Zeb Long Shot by mob on Peters Street Milton Brown Killed John White Shot by police officers in Brownsville George Wilder Shot to death by mob while being transported to the Tower Sam McGruder
  • 17. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot  http://www.1906atlantaraceriot.org/ Centennial Remembrance Weekend Sept. 21–24, 2006 Atlanta, Georgia August 19 – September 30, 2006 : 515 Auburn Avenue  What Color the Dawn: Breaking the Silence on the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. A listening station of oral histories by first/second generation witnesses. Tuesday, August 29th 2006: Margaret Mitchell House “Rage in the Gate City” lecture by Rebecca Burns Lecture Sunday, July 9th, 1:00 p.m.  Walking Tour: Walking tour of the sites related to the riot; starts in Woodruff Park at the gazebo. Radio Show: Thursday, July 20th 2006: 89.3 FM WRFG's Good Morning Blues. Cliff Kuhn will join host Phil Graitcer to talk about the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. Sept. 3, 2006-Jan. 27, 2007: The Dalton Gallery of Agnes Scott College: FENCE by LISA TUTTLE: A Public Work of Art in Honor of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot April 30 th , 2006 4:00pm-6:00pm Clairmont Crest Apts. / 1861 Clairmont Road Dr. Harvey Newman, GA State University conducts a panel discussion with Ms. Christine King Farris (MLK Jr.’s sister), Ms. Rose Walter Palmer (niece of Walter White, the Secretary of the NAACP from 1931-1955).
  • 18. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot  http://www.1906atlantaraceriot.org/ Centennial Remembrance Weekend Sept. 21–24, 2006 Atlanta, Georgia Thursday, September 21st, 2006 : Old Ebenezer Baptist Church  A memorial service at the church, then a processional and to and graveside service at the South-View Cemetery. Thursday, September 21 st , 2006: Old Fourth Ward A candlelight vigil from the King gravesites on Auburn Avenue through the Fourth Ward. Friday, September 22 nd – Sunday, September 25 th Georgia State University and Atlanta University Center’s Woodruff Library Panel discussions, book signings, and artistic interpretations.
  • 19. THE 1906 ATLANTA RACE RIOT WORKS CITED Garrett, Franklin M. Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of Its People and Events . Volume II. Athens: University of Georgia Press. 1969. Auchmutey, Jim. “Deadline: How Atlanta’s newspapers helped incite the 1906 race riot.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 17 September 2006: B1 and B3. Auchmutey, Jim “A century later, a city remembers” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 17 September, 2006: A1 and A14. Wells-Barnett, Ida B. Lynch Law in Georgia: A six-week record in the center of southern civilization as faithfully chronicled by the Atlanta journal and the Atlanta constitution ... the lynching of nine men for alleged arson. Pamphlet Circulated in Chicago 1899. The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot: An Explanatory Timeline by Clarissa Myrick-Harris, Ph.D. http://www.1906atlantaraceriot.org/ “The Neighborhood Union” collection. Special Collections in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Atlanta University. http://www.auctr.edu/collections/titles/nuc.asp . http://www.1906atlantaraceriot.org/ http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/