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

By Rebecca Burns | Go to book overview

15
Fighting Back

“In a voice as quiet as though he were asking me to
pass him the sugar at the breakfast table, he said,
‘Son, don’t shoot until the first man puts his foot on
the lawn and then — don’t you miss.’”

— WALTER WHITE, A Man Called White

On Sunday morning, Walter White and his father cautiously made their way outside and walked to Peachtree Street to see what condition the city was in. They saw tatters of shirts, caps, and jackets that had belonged to black victims of the mob — now hanging from lampposts and street signs, totems of the massacre displayed “like skulls in a cannibal’s hut,” as Walter would later write.1

During the Sunday service at First Church, worshippers talked of the riot and nothing else. Less than half of the congregation was present; most black Atlantans would stay home for days. Already, rumors spread that hundreds, possibly thousands, had already packed their things and abandoned their homes and jobs to leave Atlanta for good.

Police estimated that more than five thousand white men and boys had participated in the mob violence the night before. On Sunday, police arrested just five white men for rioting: D. J. Kinnery, a railroad clerk;

-131-

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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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