The Atlanta Race Riot of 1906 took place from September 22-24, 1906, after local newspapers alleged that African American males assaulted white females. There were, however, more causes of the riot. For instance, Atlanta's population grew drastically between 1880 and 1910, meaning that there was increased job competition between African American and white workers. White elites did not want the races mingling either, so Jim Crow segregation was expanded, especially in neighborhoods and public transportation. With the new right to vote during Reconstruction, African Americans were also more active politically and economically. Candidates in the 1906 race for governor played on the white population's fears of a black upper class. Hoke Smith and Clark Howell, who both owned newspapers, swayed public opinion through their respective newspapers. Other newspapers not owned by Smith or Howell also spread stories that white women were assaulted by African Americans.
In late September, white mobs killed or wounded dozens of African Americans and damaged property after four separate, unsubstantiated stories of assault. On the evening of September 22, white mobs could not be calmed and assaulted hundreds of African Americans and destroyed African American-owned businesses in Atlanta. On September 23, Atlanta was put under the control of the state militia. Even though the police patrolled Atlanta, African Americans armed themselves for protection, fearful that the mob would return. A group of African Americans met on Monday, September 24 while heavily armed, worrying the police that there would be a counterattack. The police raided the meeting in Brownsville, Georgia, and a shootout began. After a police officer was killed, heavily armed militia also came to Brownsville and arrested over 250 African Americans.
On Monday and Tuesday, the press and city officials called for an end to the mob violence. National reports of the riots damaged Atlanta's image as a thriving New South city.3 Anywhere from 25 to 40 African Americans were killed during the riots. African Americans continued to fear violence, so the city stayed segregated. The African American community in Atlanta faced an economic depression. In 1908, black suffrage was restricted. The African American community also strayed from Booker T. Washington's strategy and instead looked toward the more aggressive tactics of W. E. B. Du Bois for racial justice. Ultimately, the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906, though largely forgotten in Atlanta's official histories, was an important turning point for Atlanta's African American community and the African American community more broadly in the United States.