Timeline

1906

September 22nd, 1906

White Men Terrorize African Americans in Atlanta for Days, Killing Dozens

On September 22, 1906, after local newspapers reported alleged assaults on four white women by black men, mobs of angry white men gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, streets with the goal of attacking and killing any black man they found. The mobs seized upon street cars, trapped black male passengers, and killed the men by shooting them or brutally beating them to death. When the street cars stopped running, the rioters ransacked black businesses, beating or killing the people inside. The armed white men also chased black men through hotels and white-owned businesses, shooting and killing them in the hallways. The police and fire departments were called upon to quell the unrest but failed, as did the militia.

When asked what he could do to end the violence, Atlanta Mayor James Woodward replied, “The only remedy is to remove the cause. As long as the black brutes assault our white women, just so long will they be unceremoniously dealt with.” Woodward’s ambivalence empowered the mobs and the massacre continued. For a total of four days, black people were chased, beaten, shot, and hung throughout Atlanta and its surroundings. When black citizens of Brownville, a nearby suburb, attempted to arm themselves in defense, Georgia troops raided their homes, taking weapons and arresting those in possession of them. After four days of riots, between 25 and 40 people were dead and countless more were injured.