SNCC, Black Power, and the Atlanta Rebellion
"Perspective on The Atlanta Rebellion," a photo-essay pamphlet that presents a grassroots community-based narrative of the events in Summerhill in September 1966. Published by San Francisco-based The Movement Press and distributed by Aframerican News Service from an address in the Atlanta neighborhood of Castleberry Hill linked to other African-American political publications, the pamphlet offers a necessary counter-narrative to how the "Summerhill Riot" was portrayed by Mayor Allen.
Written by Julius Lester, a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) active in Atlanta at the time (many of the photographs in the pamphlet are also taken by Lester), the seven-part essay describes how the intersection of Urban Renewal policies, the construction of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, systemic inequity, and discriminatory policing led to the events of September 6, 1966. Lester is also the author of the important 1966 essay "The Angry Children of Malcolm X" and would go on to be a prominent scholar of Afro-American studies.
Of note is how this pamphlet found its way into the mayoral records of Mayor Allen. In the archive, it is accopamied by a quickly typed note from Henry Bowden to Allen's secretary that says, "This was being handed out tofay [sic] at corner of Marietta and Forsyth streets by a negro girl." Then acting as City Attorney for Atlanta, Bowden would go on to be a member of the Board of Trustees for Emory University, and later its chairman, as well as the university's legal counsel.
Labeled "SNCC Disturbance," Box 19 Folder 6 contains 154 pages of documents related to the Summerhill Riot of 1966 with a focus on the role of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, and Black Power. Letters to Mayor Allen commending him for his response to the Summerhill events are interspersed throughout in addition to the material listed below.
Highlights include a letter to Mayor Allen from a black Air Force photographer stationed in Vietnam and Allen's response, which indirectly cites SNCC's role in the Summerhill event; telegrams and letters demanding the release of Stokely Carmichael; the "Perspectives on the Atlanta Rebellion" pamphlet excerpted above; the pamphlet "Black Body White Mind" published by the Student Voice, the newspaper of SNCC, critiquing "white cultural and educational domination"; a statement by Mayor Allen following the conviction of William Haywood James for the murder of 14-year old Hulet Varner, Jr. on September 10, 1966, which led to further unrest; documents related to the Georgia State Patrol's role in the Summerhill events; a letter from the Vine City Council (an affiliate of SNCC) to Mayor Allen; a flyer titled "Stokely Carmichael Jailed in Atlanta, GA!" distributed by SNCC; a subpoena from the US District Court of North Georgia for Mayor Allen issued on behalf of Stokely Carmichael's defense; drafts of Mayor Allen's public statements about the Summerhill event; and a letter from City Attorney Henry Bowden reassuring the president of a local bank that "We are using every bit of investigative ability that the Atlanta Police Department has in an effort to obtain evidence to insure the conviction of Carmichael."
Labeled "SNCC Disturbance," Box 19 Folder 7 contains 45 pages of documents related to the Summerhill Riot of 1966 with a focus on the role of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, and Black Power.
Highlights include Mayor Allen's statement on September 11, 1966 following the murder of 14-year old Hulet Varnet in Old Fourth Ward; a letter to Chief Jenkins of the Atlanta Police Department about the ownership of addresses affiliated with SNCC; lists of those arrested in Summerhill; a statement by the Council on Human Relations of Greater Atlanta, Inc. condemning the events in Summerhill but rebuking the city for blaming SNCC and offering an important reframing of the events leading up to and including the "riots"; a SNCC pamphlet with an additional typed statement on Summerhill titled "Black Brothers And Sisters, Let's Get The Facts Straight, Don't Let The White Press Trick You"; a description of a "Vine City Incident" in which a SNCC location was burned down; and thank you letters from Mayor Allen to restaurant owners and other individuals who aided the city and police in connection with the Summerhill events. Note: Pages 46-94 in the Box 19 Folder 7 PDF are related to the Atlanta Braves 1966 opening season baseball game and have been incorrectly organized into this folder.
Many of the documents contained in the three Summerhill Riot folders labeled "non-favorable or radical attitude" are correspondence to Mayor Allen in support of SNCC, Stokely Carmichael, and the Black Power movement: