ATLANTA — A Georgia congresswoman plans to introduce a resolution in the U.S. House later this week to commemorate the 1906 Atlanta massacre. The horror of that event stayed suppressed for nearly a hundred years.
The Atlanta massacre was a three-night long assault against Black communities south and west of downtown, 116 years ago this week.
It was a year when two white supremacists, Hoke Smith and Clark Howell, were battling to win the race for Georgia governor. Atlanta’s two big newspapers -- the Constitution and Journal, separately owned and competitive at the time -- stoked white rage against what had been a thriving Black community south of downtown.
"You had African American families with means. So white people at the time decided that they were taking away from their wealth and their generational wealth-building, and that enraged them," said Ann Hill Bond, who has spent years researching the event.
Described incorrectly for years as a race "riot," the 1906 massacre was a one-sided attack against Black Atlantans.
Hill has been among the researchers pinpointing historic sites now getting markers, telling the grim story. Black residents fled the area in droves more than a hundred years ago, undermining their wealth and stability.
U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) said she will introduce a resolution in the U.S. House this week recognizing the massacre.
"I will let you know that I didn’t even realize what had happened here until digging more into it, and what has contributed to this racial wealth gap in our city," Williams said Monday.
That gap puts the median income of white families in Atlanta at $83,722, nearly three times that of Black families $28,105, according to the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.
Williams said highlighting the Atlanta massacre can help explain that gap – and give an ugly moment in Atlanta’s history a necessary national spotlight.