Mar 30, 2022 - News

How Atlanta Race Massacre victims could be memorialized

A zoomed-in look at an October 1906 French newspaper with a cover depicting the Atlanta Race Massacre

A detail from the cover of the Oct. 7, 1906, edition of the French newspaper Le Petit Journal depicting the Atlanta Race Massacre. Photo: Bibliothèque nationale de France/Wikimedia Commons

The estimated two-dozen Black people who were killed by white mobs during the Atlanta Race Massacre in 1906 could soon be memorialized.

Driving the news: This morning, an Atlanta City Council committee is scheduled to discuss erecting a marker to remember the victims in Downtown and Historic South Atlanta where some of the violence took place.

History lesson: In late September 1906, angry groups of white men — thousands of them, according to some researchers — killed dozens of Black people in Atlanta during two days of terror. Two white people were killed.

  • Black men, women and children were beaten and communities and businesses, including the barbershop owned by Alonzo Herndon, was vandalized.
  • The mobs were spurred by sensational and unsubstantiated newspaper stories about Black men assaulting white women, historians say. Competition for jobs, the emergence of a Black upper class and growing racial and socioeconomic tensions also contributed.

The big picture: The markers project is supported by the Fulton County Remembrance Coalition and is part of an ongoing effort by the Equal Justice Initiative to erect memorials to lynching victims. The Montgomery, Alabama-based nonprofit pays for the marker and installation.

More than 4,000 people were lynched between 1877 and 1950, according to the EJI.

  • Nearly 600 people were lynched in Georgia. 36 of those people were killed in Fulton County, the legislation says.

What they’re saying: “Here in the U.S., I don’t think [lynching has] ever really been addressed,” councilmember Keisha Sean Waites, who’s sponsoring the legislation, tells Axios. “When we engage in conversations, and engage in some kind of reconciliation, we’re able to deal with the reality of the horrific events.”

What’s next: If the legislation passes out of committee, the full Council will consider it at the next scheduled meeting on April 18.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to state that the legislation will be considered at the next Council meeting on April 18, not next week.


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