modern civil rights

modern civil rights - Class Discussion Guide 24 The Modern...

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Class Discussion Guide 24 The Modern Civil Rights Movement John Herbert Roper The first civil rights activist was Jesus Christ. He moved among the untouchable lepers and he drank water from a Samaritan well with a Samaritan woman who was shacked up with a Samaritan man who was not her husband. He preached to and healed the mentally handicapped. He preached to and healed prostitutes both Jewish and gentile. He reached across to the hated Roman conquerors, and he saved the very centurion who stood guard over Jesus’ lynching on Calvary. But that is only one personal conception of Our Lord, and it explains only my theological reasons for joining the civil rights movement in 1968 on the occasion of the murder of my only liberal friend Frank Chandler in Campobello, South Carolina. When can an historian find the starting point for the civil rights movement in our country? It starts with a crucible, an “orgy of extreme racism” and the “nadir of race relations” between 1889 and 1919, with an obvious watershed, the Atlanta Race Riot in the third week of October 1908. 1 1 . Historians of race are largely in agreement on this period 1889-1918 as the worst period of racial violence and racial depredation in the South. The phrase “orgy of extreme racism” was developed by Eugene Dominick Genovese after he read Rayford Whittingham. Logan’s study, The Betrayal of the Negro (New York: Collier, 1965) [originally published under the title Negroes in American Life and Thought: The Nadir , 1877-1901 (New York: Dial, 1954) , in which Logan used the term “nadir of racism.” Joel Randolph Williamson developed an in-depth study of the period in his magisterial Crucible of Race (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984), and William popularized
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There is no book on the Atlanta Riot, although there is a master’s thesis at Emory University that was never published; and historians Williamson and C[omer] Vann Woodward have each written about the event in prominent publications. 2 During a long and hot weekend when many farmers had come into Atlanta to pay debts and to borrow money and otherwise settle accounts, rumors of a black man raping a white woman sparked a white riot that eventually killed at least twenty people while the major black business center, Brownsville, was laid waste. Mayor Hoke Smith and Rebecca Latimer Felton (later to become first female U.S. Senator) personally exhorted crowds to kill black people. The police by and large joined in the killing, and sons of some of the most prominent Atlanta families (early versions of C. Wright Mills’s “power elite”) took part. Targets of the tightly focused rage were businessmen, clergymen, and political leaders in the so-styled Sweet Auburn section of downtown Atlanta. Note that the Jim Crow segregation of public facilities, the Jim Crow reductions of black voting, and the residential segregation that created Sweet Auburn and Brownsville as black-only communities, all the Jim Crow laws were already in place at that time of the riot. Indeed,
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modern civil rights - Class Discussion Guide 24 The Modern...

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