The Nadir of Black Political Influence, 1909–1932

Alton Hornsby

in Black Power in Dixie

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780813032825
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038537 | DOI:
The Nadir of Black Political Influence, 1909–1932

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This chapter discusses the lowest point and darkest period in Atlanta politics. During the period from 1909 to the New Deal, Atlanta politics, and black political interest and influence plummeted to their lowest point. In 1908, the Georgia legislature passed a statewide act that disfranchised blacks except in general, open, and special elections. With little or no interference from the Republican Party or the federal government, the black Atlantans faced a new period of political helplessness. This nadir of black politics had been foreshadowed by the disastrous race riot of 1906, which, while it eventually led to at least a temporary improvement in race relations in Atlanta, did little in itself to change the rabid negrophobia that was now prevailing in Georgia politics. In this chapter, the moves to disfranchise and segregate blacks from the social, economical, and political opportunities accorded to the whites are discussed and examined. After the riot of 1906, blacks suffered a racist move that marginalized and restrained them from political involvement and from enjoying public facilities such as educational facilities, housing facilities, and transportation. In the years before the Great Depression, Atlanta blacks waged persistent moves for more and better schools for their children and equality for black teachers; resistance against Jim Crownism in public transportation and in housing; and moves for more living space. Yet almost all of these issues were fought outside of the realm of electoral politics. This period can be correctly seen as a nadir only in the sense of the legal exclusion of the blacks, and the resulting political lethargy, based upon all-important white primaries in the city. The continued political agitation away from the polls, and the flexing of muscles in an occasional special or general election, was an important portent for the future of black politics and black life in the city.

Keywords: Atlanta politics; black political interest; black political influence; disfranchised; political helplessness; black politics; political involvement; political lethargy

Chapter.  10780 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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