In 1906, a mob of 10,000 racists snatched, chased, and murdered Black people through the streets of Atlanta. And the aftermath of this massacre birthed what is now called the “Atlanta Way.”
The punchy phrase references how Black and white Atlantans “come together” on racial issues. But at whose expense?
In 1906, white businessmen and leaders met with Black businessmen, ministers, and elites to repress racial “disorder” and protect the economy. Really, it was an attack on Black self-defense.
Black residents, rich and poor, had armed themselves to fight back during the massacre. But suddenly, leaders involved in that compromise rejected the solidarity. Don’t destroy property. Don’t get violent. Don’t make a scene.
But as Black resistance quieted, gentrification, economic inequality, and legislative stagnance ensued. Average, working-class Black Atlantans were not the ones who benefited.
That strategy also kept “order” during the Civil Rights Era. And it’s relevant today.
After Black Atlantans resisted in 2020, police retaliated, and rich whites in Buckhead threatened to secede. Black politicians then supported crime wave narratives that led to the fast-tracking of Cop City.
The next time you see people with money and political power, both Black and white, push to stifle our resistance, remember this history.
But also know this: strategies like the Atlanta Way only exist because our resistance is a powerful threat.