The Summerhill Riot or the Atlanta Rebellion?: Uprising and Inequity in the "City Too Busy To Hate"

The Summerhill Riot is more heavily represented in the Ivan Allen Digital Archive than any other single event from the tenure of Mayor Allen. The number and range of documents in the archive reflect both the importance and the complexity of these events to Mayor Allen's legacy and the history of race relations in Atlanta. To date, there is no comphrensive resource on the events that became known as the Summerhill Riot. The Ivan Allen Digital Archive is the main repository of primary source material related to this historic event, making it a key resource in the development of the narratives about the Summerhill Riot.

The Summerhill Riot, also known as the Atlanta Rebellion, is a series of events that began on September 6, 1966 in the majority black neighborhood of Summerhill following the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Harold Prather. A group of Summerhill residents, which grew to over a thousand people, gathered together in response to the shooting to protest longterm local problems related to ongoing inequities, including discriminatory policing, poor housing, inadequate public services, the urban renewal policies that had afffected the neighborhood, and the recent construction of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium on the edge of Summerhill. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which had been active in Atlanta since its founding in 1960, became involved when members of the organization joined the protests. A heavy police presence was met with resistance by protestors, which resulted in the image of the events as a "riot." As the sitatuion escalated, Mayor Allen visited the neighborhood of Summerhill to address protestors directly. A series of memorable photographs of Mayor Allen at the "riot" are available in the Ivan Allen, Jr. Digital Collection. Allen placed blame for the events directly on SNCC. Members of SNCC, including Carmichael, would be arrested soon after. The Summerhill uprising was reported in the national media and Mayor Allen would receive widespread praise for his response. A chapter in Allen's memoir, Mayor: Notes on the Sixties, titled "Riot" provides his account of the events in Summerhill.

The two exhibits, "Responses to Summerhill" and "SNCC, Black Power, and the Atlanta Rebellion," collect the sixteen folders about the Summerhill Riot from the Ivan Allen Digital Archive. 

Additional Resources:

Mayor: Notes on the Sixties by Ivan Allen, Jr. (1971)

"Black power in the South: Urban Protest and neighborhood Activism in Atlanta, Georgia, 1966-1969," by Winston A. Grady-Willis in Présence Africaine, Nouvelle série, No. 161/162 (2000), pp. 328-344 (available via JSTOR)

The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta by Maurice J. Hobson (2017)

SNCC Digital Gateway:, including their page about SNCC's history in Atlanta