Sept. 18, 2006
Faculty instrumental in Atlanta Race Riot Centennial Remembrance
BY elaine justice
On the night of Sept. 22, 1906, a powder keg of racial tension in Atlanta exploded in violence. In what became known as the Atlanta Race Riot, at least 25 blacks and two whites lay dead by the time the riot ended on Sept. 25. The Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot has organized a Centennial
Remembrance Weekend Sept. 21–24, a series of initiatives and public events to uncover this forgotten history and inspire Atlantans to take steps beyond the familiar slogan, “the city too busy to hate.”
Emory religion professor Thee Smith has been deeply involved in the effort to bring about the commemoration. The coalition was first conceived by the Southern Truth and Reconciliation Commission (www.SouthernTruth.org), which Smith and other Emory community members and area citizens founded in response to a challenge issued by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. As a visiting professor at Emory, Tutu challenged the United States to address its history of racial violence.
Smith and other Emory faculty continue to take on that challenge. Leslie Harris of the history department was among those who helped conceive the Centennial Remembrance Weekend, and colleague Leroy Davis did early consulting with the coalition. Emory history professor Susan Ashmore teaches the Atlanta Race Riot historic period in her class and works with the coalition. Lori Teague and Patton White of the dance faculty have created an artistic piece related to the 1906 riot.
Smith, as co-convener of the Centennial Remembrance Weekend with Clifford Kuhn, a history professor at Georgia State University, will moderate a town meeting on “Lessons for Atlanta: Where Do We Go From Here?,” Saturday, Sept. 23, at 4:30 p.m., in the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center.
The weekend events begin Sept. 21 with the opening of “Red Was the Midnight: The 1906 Atlanta Race Riot Exhibit” at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site Visitors Center. Related broadcasts will be aired Sept. 21 on National Public Radio (WABE-FM 90.1) and on WRFG-FM 89.3.
For a full list of Centennial Remembrance events, visit www.1906atlantaraceriot.org/.