Race and Reckoning in Forsyth County

1912-2020

Forsyth County, located forty miles north of the state capital, has a complicated history of racial tension and violence. Following Reconstruction, Forsyth County was home to a small Black community that included dozens of landholders. But in 1912, the murder of a young white woman led to a tidal wave of racial violence. By the end of the year, the county’s 1,098 Black residents were gone. The county became a “sundown town” thereafter, with white residents excluding Black residents through violence.

The extension of Georgia 400 in the 1970s facilitated increased travel from Forsyth County to Atlanta, making the area an attractive suburb. In 1987 civil rights veteran Hosea Williams partnered with other activists to organize the Brotherhood March, an event intended to demonstrate the county's racial progress. But white supremacists attacked them with rocks and bottles. The following weekend, roughly 20,000 people marched and heard speeches from Williams, Coretta Scott King, and other civil rights leaders. The speakers called for an end to the sundown town and denounced racism in the area.

Even after the march, the county had few Black residents until the late 1990s, and African Americans composed a smaller proportion of the population in 2010 than in 1910. As of 2019, though, Forsyth County has one of the fastest-growing Asian American populations in the nation.


Exhibit by Davis Winkie. Fact checking by John Prechtel.