NYT: ‘American Apartheid: A Georgia County Drove Out All Its Black Citizens in 1912’

Sad! Why would people who think they are white act like this to black bodies? Makes no sense.

New York Times:

A Racial Cleansing in America
By Patrick Phillips
Illustrated. 302 pp. W.W. Norton & Company. $26.95.

Patrick Phillips’s book, at its core, is about the lies told over and over again until they become the truth. Lies ­crafted to exonerate white residents, who deployed terror, lynching and the law to racially cleanse all black people from Forsyth County, Ga. Lies proffered to explain why, despite the civil rights movement and the area’s proximity to Atlanta, the ­county remained virtually all-white into the 1990s. “Blood at the Root,” whose title is taken from a stanza of “Strange Fruit,” the hauntingly painful song about lynching, is no redemption tale. By the end, it is clear that the white supremacy responsible for killing black bodies and stealing land and property remains, to this day, unbowed and ­unrepentant…

He takes us back to the moment in 1912 when a young white woman named Mae Crow is found in a ditch, bludgeoned and raped. Forsyth County’s whites immediately assumed that the perpetrators had to be black. Who else would do something so savage?

…“Blood at the Root” thus meticulously and elegantly reveals the power of white supremacy in its many guises — be it active, complicit or complacent; rural or suburban — to distort and destroy, not only lives and accomplishments, but historical memory, the law and basic human civility.

What are lessons from this book that we can all apply to our lives today?

According to Wikipedia:

During the early 21st century, Forsyth County has been one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States in terms of percentage of growth. The population growth was stimulated by the county’s proximity to Atlanta and its appeal as a commuter base for people working in the Atlanta area. The influx of high-earning professionals has increased the average income dramatically; in 2008 Forbes ranked the county as the 13th-wealthiest in the United States in terms of median household income…

The county population of about 10,000 was 90 percent majority white in the early 20th century, and residents still depended on agriculture. Its more than 1,000 “blacks” included 440 persons classified as mixed race on the census, indicating a continuing history of racial mixing.

Racial tensions became inflamed following two separate incidents in September 1912 in which black men were alleged to have raped white women. In the first case, a black preacher was assaulted by whites for suggesting the alleged victim may have been having a consensual relationship with a black man. The Sheriff gained support from the governor, who sent more than 20 National Guard troops to keep peace. The suspects in the first case were never tried, for lack of evidence.

In the second case, one of five black suspects was lynched by a mob of 4,000 who stormed the Cumming jail after arrests, shot him, and hanged his body on the town square. The woman rape victim died two weeks after being attacked. Charges against two of the four persons left in the second case were dropped after a plea bargain. But two young black men under 18 were quickly convicted by all-white juries and executed by hanging. Whites afterward harassed and intimidated blacks in Forsyth and neighboring counties, forcing most of them out of the region within weeks. By the late 20th century, residents were still almost all white.

During the 1950s, with the introduction of the poultry industry, the county had steady economic growth but was still all white and mostly rural. Georgia State Route 400 opened in 1971 and was eventually extended through the county and northward; it stimulated population growth as the county became a bedroom community for people working in Atlanta, which had expanding work opportunities.

By 1980, the county population was 27,500, growing to 40,000 in 1987. While some blacks worked in the county in new industries, none lived there. The county gained more than 30 new industries from 1980 and unemployment was low. Such growth resulted in the median income, formerly low, “rising faster than in any other county in Georgia.”[9] A small civil rights march in the county seat of Cumming in January 1987 was attacked by people throwing rocks, dirt and bottles. A week later another, much larger march took place, with civil rights activists going from Atlanta to Cumming protected by police and National Guard, and thousands of protesters joining a counter-demonstration. Local people said conditions had been improving for minorities, but whites appeared to be reacting out of fear.[9]

Forsyth County continued to be developed for subdivisions, industry and related businesses. In 2008 it had been ranked among the top ten fastest-growing counties of the United States for several years. Many new subdivisions have been constructed, several around top-quality golf courses. The county’s proximity to Atlanta and the Blue Ridge mountains, and bordering 37,000-acre (150 km2) Lake Sidney Lanier, has attracted many new residents. More than 60% of the current population either lived elsewhere in 1987 or had not yet been born.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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