To start with it is necessary to mention, that Atlanta was the home of Henry Grady, the New South inoculator who wanted to convince northerners that the race matter could be left securely with white southerners. Atlanta was also the place of Booker T.
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Washington’s famous dialogue (“The Atlanta Compromise,” 1895) taking a new racial settlement. But in 1906, a key Riot in Atlanta showed black southerners that their position was neither secure nor established even in the most contemporary of southern cities. Throughout three bloody September days, white crowds killed at least thirty black men and women, hurt much more, and obliterated any number of black homes and businesses. In The Atlanta Riot, Gregory Mixon researches the long- and short-term reasons for the aggression and its impact on race relationships in the capital of the New South. The Atlanta Riot is a clear and brief study, yet extensive in its advance. In some chapters, Mixon takes a look at the expects and actions of elites and employees, black and white, at the turn of the century. It was these rival forces, interwoven with Atlanta’s quick urban and industrial enhancement that brought ethnic tensions ahead. In an important sense, accordingly, it is a versatile story. But Mixon is in no indecision as to the identity of the main offenders. White leaders, in the name of improvement, advanced the anti-black approaches that translated into mob aggression. Then white elites, in the name of law and order, enhanced self-serving isolation and non-permission settlement after the Riot. As the story moves toward 1906, the story more and more concentrates on the set-ups of Atlanta’s white guidance. Mixon shows that it was elite, riven with a political group. It was exactly the factionalism that led to the virulence of the anti-black movement. The 1906 gubernatorial race was a sour resistance between Clark Howell’s political machine and Atlanta Journal editor Hoke Smith’s improvement label. Both sides tested votes by supporting white preeminence, and both sides tried to label their adversaries as conspirators to their race. Yet Mixon quarrels convincingly that white headers were not simply driven by racial discrimination. Indeed, Hoke Smith had held beforehand something of a repute for compassion toward black Georgians. Rather, reformers supposed that the oratory of white preeminence was the single way to unite rural and urban Georgians, Populists, and dissident Democrats, around an only ticket. The movement was so effective that the reformers succeeded. The Riot and disfranchisement were pursued soon afterward. Mixon joins the Atlanta story with the deeper history of urbanization and aggression in the New South. In some ways, the aggression was an awkward copy of previous riots in Danville, Virginia, and mainly Wilmington, North Carolina. In one charming episode, Smith’s Atlanta Journal ran a sequence of articles looking at the positive lectures Atlantans should draw from Wilmington (and the cautions offered by Maryland, which had not disfranchised black electors). Mixon also depicts exciting contrasts with the political enthusiasms following race riots in the antebellum North.
Comparing the Atlanta riot with those in cities such as Wilmington, Mixon provides a nationalized framework for racial violence. Addressing a wide range of individual and legislative sources, Mixon reveals the methods of the white elite in attaining a racial authority in Atlanta that made it a “prototype metropolis of twentieth-century America”
Jules R. Benjamin. 2007. A Student’s Guide to History 10th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s publisher