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  • The Race Riot of 1906

    A racist governor, sensationalized headlines and Jim Crow laws sparked rage in a mob of white men who randomly beat and killed black men in Atlanta. Historian Cliff Kuhn and Carole Merritt, director of Herndon Home, examine the causes and consequences of the Race Riot of 1906.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. How do the events leading up to the Race Riot of 1906 demonstrate the role media can play in society?

    2. Why was Alonzo Herndon's barbershop specifically targeted during the riot?

    3. One of the results of the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 was that black leaders realized that W.E.B. DuBois’ ideas of pushing racial equality was more productive than the ideas of Booker T. Washington. Explain why the riot made DuBois’ ideas more popular. 

    Expansion

    1. Describe conditions in 1906 for blacks and whites. Define the word “tolerance” and discuss how tolerance among political leaders may have helped prevent the 1906 race riot.

    Vocabulary

    assault: a violent onset or attack with physical means, as blows, weapons, etc.; an onslaught; the rush or charge of an attacking force; as, to make assault upon a man, a house, or a town
    constitutional: in line with the fundamental, organic law or principles of government of men, embodied in written documents, or implied in the institutions and usages of the country or society
    derogatory: tending to derogate, or lessen in value; expressing derogation; detracting; injurious. Often refers to injurious comments or words
    discriminate: to treat unequally; to separate from another by discerning differences
    disenfranchise: to disfranchise; to deprive of the rights of a citizen
    gubernatorial: pertaining to a governor, or to government
    Jim Crow laws: laws developed specifically to inconvenience African Americans or to promote segregation between the races

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. How do the events leading up to the Race Riot of 1906 demonstrate the role media can play in society?
    Media often have a huge influence on people and their opinions and perceptions of events. With racist newspapers exaggerating and sensationalizing stories about African Americans harming white women, white men became enraged and ultimately attacked and killed many African Americans. Had the newspapers not printed these often false stories, it is possible that the riot would have never happened. 

    2. Why was Alonzo Herndon's barbershop specifically targeted during the riot? 
    Alonzo Herndon represented some of what the poor white men were angry about, including the wealth and success of some African Americans. 

    3. One of the results of the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 was that black leaders realized that W.E.B. DuBois’ ideas of pushing racial equality was more productive than the ideas of Booker T. Washington. Explain why the riot made DuBois’ ideas more popular. 
    The unequal treatment of Blacks by white newspapers and employers, which were the beginnings of the riots, caused Blacks to re-think their place in society. Black African-Americans realized that they would not achieve racial, educational, or social equality with whites unless they forced the issue. DuBois’ helped found the NAACP for the express purpose of introducing legislation that would advance people’s thinking that equality in the U.S. Constitution meant all races, not just the white race. After the riot in Atlanta, Blacks felt that Washington’s ideas would have taken much longer to achieve equality for the Negro. Washington wanted Blacks to be prepared educationally to “exercise…these privileges” of equality with white people. He knew that it would be a “severe and constant struggle rather than of artificial forcing….”

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