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

By Rebecca Burns | Go to book overview

7
Pastor Proctor’s Sermon

“The house in which I discovered what it meant to be a
Negro was located on Houston Street, three blocks from
the Candler Building.”

— WALTER WHITE, A Man Called White

On Sunday, August 26, Reverend Henry Hugh Proctor, pastor of First Congregational Church, delivered a sermon calibrated for political, if not spiritual, effect. The message was not intended so much for the church members sitting in the pews that night, as for the white newspaper editors, to whom he had already sent a copy. Using the text from the second chapter of Genesis, in which Adam declares of Eve, “This is now the bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman,” Proctor exhorted his listeners to remember that the protection of womanhood was the duty of all God-fearing men.

Proctor, the handsome, Yale-educated minister of First Congregational Church — known by its members as First Church — was charismatic, smart, and ambitious. Towering at six-foot-four, he took command of any room he entered and was a striking figure as he walked through downtown Atlanta. Shrewdly politically astute, Proctor knew that he needed to do what he could to make it clear to Atlanta’s white business, civic, and law-enforcement leaders that the members of his church inhabited a different social sphere from the “vagrants and loafers” suspected of assaulting women in Fulton County.

-63-

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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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