8FreedmenVotingInNewOrleans1867

Camilla, Georgia became the site of a racially motivated political riot on Saturday, September 19, 1868. Determined to promote political and social reform with an organized rally, 150–300 freedmen, along with Republican political candidates, marched toward the town’s courthouse square for the rally. The local sheriff and “citizens committee” in the majority-white town warned the black and white activists of the impending violence and demanded that they forfeit their guns, even though carrying weapons was customary at the time. The marchers refused to give up their guns and continued to the courthouse square, where a group of local whites, quickly deputized by the sheriff, fired upon them. This assault forced the Republicans and freedmen to retreat as locals gave chase into the swamps, killing an estimated nine to fifteen of the black rally participants while wounding forty others. “Whites proceeded through the countryside over the next two weeks, beating and warning Negroes that they would be killed if they tried to vote in the coming election.” The Camilla Massacre was the culmination of smaller acts of violence committed by white inhabitants that had plagued southwest Georgia since the end of the Civil War.

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