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The Atlanta Race Massacre of 1906 (read short history here) is largely unknown today, even though it is a defining moment in Atlanta’s history – and our nation’s history of racial terror targeting African Americans.
As part of our Truth and Transformation Initiative, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights is working with a coalition of organizations to mark the 116th anniversary of the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre in September 2022.
You can join this effort.
A handful of descendants of survivors of the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre are participating in this week’s events.
Farrow Allen is the grandson of Luther Judson Price, South Atlanta’s first African American postmaster who was threatened by a mob during the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre. Now retired and living in Asheville, N.C., Allen was born several years after his grandfather died in 1936 and heard stories about him from his mother. Born into slavery in middle Georgia, Price became one of the first graduates of Clark University after the Civil War. He ran a general store and post office in a South Atlanta neighborhood known as Brownsville and was considered a respected community leader. Read Farrow Allen’s full bio.
Ralph Baker is the great-nephew of Jesse Max Barber, Editor-in-Chief of The Voice of The Negro. Jesse Max Barber was born July 5, 1887, in Blackstock, South Carolina. Barber moved to Atlanta in 1903 after completing Benedict College to be the editor-in-chief of an Atlanta based periodical, The Voice of The Negro, founded in 1904. At its peak in 1906, it had a national circulation of 15,000. During the height of Barber’s journalism career, the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre forced him and his periodical out of town. Barber moved to Chicago to restart his career with a new publication, The Voice, until 1907 when the magazine ceased publication. Barber moved to Philadelphia and became a prominent dentist. Read Ralph Baker’s full bio.
Patricia Walker Bearden and Yolanda Walker Simmons are the granddaughters of Alex Walker, one of the few people convicted of an offense connected with the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre. Both retired educators, the sisters live in Chicago and were unaware of the family’s link to the traumas of 1906 until their father told them during on oral history session on his 85th birthday more than 30 years ago. In 1906, Alex Walker and his wife, Julia, were living in Brownsville, a middle-class African-American neighborhood in south Atlanta. Walker worked as a bellhop at the Kimball House hotel. He was on the job when the Massacre erupted downtown on the night of Sept. 22. Read Patricia and Yolanda Walker’s full bio
Nettie Washington Douglass’s paternal great grandfather, David T. Howard, was the first licensed mortician in the state of Georgia and a survivor of the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre. The shared clan of Washington-Douglass have deep roots in the city of Atlanta to this day. Howard rose from slavery at his birth in Crawford County, Georgia in 1849, to being called “Atlanta’s most beloved citizen and the city’s pioneer businessman” in the Atlanta Daily World’s obituary of him in 1935. A noted philanthropist and civic activist, Howard supported Butler Street YMCA, Big Bethel AME Church and education on behalf of Booker T. Washington High School and the Atlanta University Center. Read Nettie Washingon Douglass’s full bio.
Between Reconstruction and the 1950s, more than 5,000 African Americans were lynched across America. In Georgia, there were more than 500 documented lynchings between 1877 and 1950. Half of these deaths occurred in Atlanta in September 1906.
Leading up to September 22, Atlanta newspapers ran sensationalized and unproven articles about Black men assaulting white women amid resentment toward African Americans enjoying greater access to voting rights and economic opportunities. A mob of 10,000 white men attacked Black men and women, murdering at least 23 people in stores, on trolley cars, in the streets, and in their homes. No one was ever charged for the killings. To learn more about the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre, here are some resources:
“The 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre: How Fearmongering Led to Violence,” History.com
“Atlanta’s Image Challenged by Facts of 1906 Race Massacre,” Associated Press, August 3, 2022