Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot

By Rebecca Burns | Go to book overview

Introduction
Atlanta, 1906

“The South is the most unique part of our country. With
its rare climate, remarkable fertility, romantic history, and
baffling racial atmosphere, it holds a fascination no other
part of our country does.”

— HENRY HUGH PROCTOR, Between Black and White, 1925

When W. E. B. Du Bois came to Atlanta in 1897, he encountered a city of contrasts. As a professor at Atlanta University, Du Bois worked at a gorgeous campus on one of the area’s highest hills, surrounded by a cluster of colleges and seminaries. Atlanta was home to the highest concentration of educated African Americans in America.1

One of Du Bois’s fellow professors was Adrienne Herndon, a Bostontrained actress whose husband, Alonzo, a former slave, opened a number of successful barbershops and shrewdly invested in real estate, becoming the wealthiest black resident of Atlanta. The Herndons and Du Bois attended First Congregational Church, whose pastor, Henry Hugh Proctor, was a Yale-educated theologian, and where their fellow congregants included physician William Penn (another Yale graduate) and school principal W. B. Matthews. To visit his fellow academic W. E. Bowen of Gammon Theological Seminary, Du Bois would go to the community of Brownsville, a middle-class, African American enclave of fifteen hundred residents,

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Rage in the Gate City: The Story of the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Notes on Language and Sources xi
  • Introduction - Atlanta, 1906 1
  • 1 - A Lynching in Lakewood 9
  • 2 - Politics of Fear 15
  • 3 - The Gate City 23
  • 4 - The Truck Farmer’s Wife 41
  • 5 - Harpers Ferry 45
  • 6 - Incident at Copenhill 56
  • 7 - Pastor Proctor’s Sermon 63
  • 8 - Two Meetings and One Party 74
  • 9 - Low Dives and Blind Tigers 83
  • 10 - Celebration 90
  • 11 - A Visit from William Jennings Bryan 101
  • 12 - Orrie Bryan’s Story 106
  • 13 - "Extra! Extra!" 111
  • 14 - Rage 118
  • 15 - Fighting Back 131
  • 16 - Attack on Brownsville 139
  • 17 - Negotiations 145
  • 18 - What Happened to Max Barber 153
  • 19 - On Trial 159
  • 20 - Christmas Unease 166
  • Epilogue - Atlanta, 2006 171
  • Notes 177
  • Selected Bibliography 197
  • Index 203
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