Race Reform

"Mob Violence Described as 'Menace to Public Safety' At First Annual Meeting of Anti-Lynching Association", Sunday, November 22, 1931
"Southern Women and Rare Cooperation", October 6-7, 1920

Reform measures in Georgia during the Progressive Era often restricted Black rights. Beginning in the 1890s, Georgia instituted Jim Crow laws that separated the city into Black and white areas. Georgia’s Black neighborhoods were neglected when it came to city services, such as paved streets and regular garbage collection, and public accommodations, such as parks, schools, and libraries. In an environment where white female reformers viewed racial segregation and Black disenfranchisement as reform measures that brought about racial harmony, the main response to Black concerns came from the Black community. Black female reformers were not only guided by goals of civic improvement, but also demands for social justice. They challenged white supremacy through mutual aid associations, social welfare organizations, and private institutions that connected and supported Black communities across Georgia. Black women engaged in interracial cooperation with white women to marshal public resources and address race-based concerns such as lynching, police brutality, and the neglect of Black communities by local governments. When white women participated in campaigns that benefited Black neighborhoods, they often did so with a paternalistic approach that viewed Black Americans as inferior and thus requiring white assistance. Despite the shortcomings in collaborative efforts between white and Black women, they laid the groundwork for later cooperative movements, taking tentative but significant steps toward solidarity at a time when shaking hands or sharing a meal challenged the status quo.