Ancestral Walk recalls 1906 riots
9/13/2013, 6 a.m.
The victims of the four-day 1906 Atlanta Race Riots and others who died in lynchings and mob violence in the state will be remembered during First Afrikan Presbyterian Church’s 2013 Ancestral Walk on Sept. 21.
The theme of the walk, which begins at 7:30 a.m. at Decatur Street and Peachtree Center and ends at John Wesley Dobbs Plaza on Auburn Avenue, is “Without Sanctuary Our Hope Is Built.” Walk participants are urged to wear white to honor their ancestors.
The observance includes rituals of grief, release of the spirit of injustice that holds the community, and recognition of how the riots changed the very nature of the community and its families.
During the riots that began on Sept. 22, 1906, thousands of white boys and men searched for African-Americans along Decatur and other crowded streets, including Pryor Street, Central Avenue, and throughout the central business district, killing blacks or beating them senseless. Black-owned businesses were attacked and damaged.
The mobs killed dozens of African-Americans and wounded scores of others along Decatur Street, which was home to many black saloons. Accounts of the casualties range from 25 to more than 100 African-Americans.
Many whites blamed black saloon-goers for rising crime rates in the growing city, and candidates in the 1906 Georgia gubernatorial race played to white fears of a black upper class. The newspapers fanned the racial unrest with reports of alleged assaults by black males on white females. None were ever substantiated.
They also urged black disfranchisement to keep blacks “in their place” and championed white supremacy.
Some African-Americans fought back, defending their homes, and men from Gammon Theological Seminary and Clark College took a stand.
The state militia was called out.
Walter White, who experienced the riots as a boy, went on to become executive secretary of the NAACP, and he described the event in his 1948 memoir “A Man Called White.”
Statewide, scores of blacks were killed in lynchings.
For more information, contact the church at email@example.com or 770-981-2601.