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Reply #48: The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot [View All]

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Brewman_Jax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-19-06 08:32 AM
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48. The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot
The article ran on the front page of this past Sunday's Journal-Constitution newspaper.

A century later, a city remembers

Excerpt: On a cloudy Monday night a century ago this month, a dozen white lawmen and armed civilians marched into Brownsville, a black neighborhood on the southern edge of Atlanta, and started arresting anyone with a weapon.

It was the third day of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot, the worst outbreak of racial violence in the city's history. Whites had done almost all of the bloodletting so far, and authorities feared blacks were plotting reprisals.

As they headed back for the jail with their prisoners, the posse noticed figures lurking in the shadows. An officer ordered them to put up their hands. Someone pulled a trigger. Guns crackled and flashed for five minutes. A white cop and at least two black residents fell dead.

At the Fulton County Courthouse the next morning, one of the policemen, John Oliver, gave an account of the battle to a gathering that included a reporter for The Atlanta Evening News. After the shooting started, he told them, he spotted a man with a gun coming toward him and fired.

"I found him this morning. I had shot him in the stomach. He was an old negro and had a muzzle-loading musket."

The "old negro" was probably George Wilder, a disabled veteran who lived with his wife on nearby Moury Avenue. At 70, he was a former slave who had fought with the Union Army at the end of the Civil War. Thought to be the oldest Atlantan to die in the riot, he lies under a broken tombstone barely a mile from where he was shot to death.

Wilder's grave has become a focal point for a group of Atlantans who plan to commemorate the riot centennial this week. The Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot - representing an array of local colleges, governments, and cultural and faith groups - is staging a four-day remembrance that will be part symposium and part town hall meeting.

The observance will begin Thursday with a memorial service at old Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the names of dozens of people caught up in the violence will be read aloud. Then a funeral procession will leave for South-View, Atlanta's oldest black cemetery, where an African libation - a blessing and ceremonial pouring of water - will be held at the Wilder plot.

"It's the only victim's grave we've been able to find," says historian Clarissa Myrick-Harris, a coalition organizer.

A result of white rage

Unlike the urban disturbances of the 1960s, when black ghettos exploded in frustration, the riots of a century ago were usually the result of white rage. In an era of lynchings, white hysteria over black sex crimes - real and more often imagined - occasionally boiled over in mass retribution that resembled the pogroms against Jews in Russia.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, white marauders attacked black communities in Wilmington, N.C.; Springfield, Ill.; Tulsa, Okla.; and a dozen other cities.

Atlanta's descent into a near race war began on Sept. 22, 1906. It was Saturday night, and the newspapers were hawking extras with wildly exaggerated reports of rapes by blacks. Whipped into a frenzy, a crowd of 5,000 downtown started assaulting blacks at random. By the time the violence ended four days later, between 25 and 50 people were dead, and the city's reputation for New South moderation had been badly bruised.
(article continues)

I had never heard of the Atlanta race riot. This is another example of how history has been sanitized by the majority, especially if it makes them look bad. x(
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