Georgia Swift King

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1838– Felice/Felicia Swift born in Georgia to Irish/English father and Georgian mother

1840– Washington ‘Walter’ King (or John S. King??) is born in Russell, Alabama to free black parents

August 1858- Georgia Swift born to Felicia Swift and (unknown father) in Athens, Georgia

1874- Georgia Swift graduates from Atlanta University’s Normal School

[At some point: “King taught in the public schools of Augusta”]

1881– Georgia Swift marries Washington King

1882- Ernest W King is born

1884– Annabel King is born

1888- Georgia Swift King spoke at a ceremony honoring the 20 year old Mrs. J.T. Ware, the wife of AU President Ware – her “Few words of welcome” were “well chosen, and her address was a fitting tribute tot the worth of the one whom the large audience had gathered to honor.”

August 23, 1890– King is listed as a computer for the Census’s Office of Education. According to the table, King was paid $720 for her work. The data also notes that she is “colored” and a resident of the Georgia Fifth Congressional District.”

January, 1894– Noted by Mattie Childs in the Bulletin as the president of WCTU and a “wide-awake, energetic, Christian woman. You need only to be in conversation with her a few moments to be convinced that her whole heart is in the work, and her highest aim is to elevate and promote the general good of her race.”

March 1895- King speaks to the Young Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of Atlanta

November 4-11, 1894- Spoke at a reception “in behalf of the graduates” for the Society for the Advancement of Women at AU during their conference in Atlanta (heard a speech by senior Mattie Childs that night!)

September 18 – December 31, 1895- Cotton Exhibition in Atlanta

September 18- Booker T. Washington’s “Atlanta Compromise” Speech

Sometime between September 18 and October 18- King was “encouraged by bishops and other leading men of the several religious congresses, conferences and associations, which convened in Atlanta during the Cotton States International Exposition, and before which it was my privilege to present the cause of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, to undertake a similar course in adjoining states, with many assurances of aid and cooperation, my prospects seemed bright for a fruitful year.”

Possibly the same or in addition: “WCTU day at the Atlanta exposition, following immediately upon the Baltimore convention. The hall in the Woman’s building was beautifully decorated with our banners, and the details of the meeting were arranged by Mrs. Mary L McClendon. The principal speakers were Mrs. Beauchamp, Mrs. Nichols, Mrs. Sibley, and Mrs. Stevenson. It was a delight to hold this meeting in the Empire state of the South, and the attendance and the interest were both of a nature to justify the conviction that the seed-sowing was not in vain.”

October 18-23, 1895- Georgia Swift King attend 1895 annual meeting of WCTU as a national organizer, vice-president and president of Georgia no. 2 and her reports are recorded and published later that year

November 6, 1895- WCTU Congress in the Woman’s Building at the Exhibition – although other Georgia chapter president Sibley’s speech is recorded, King is not mentioned at all (either in attendance or as a speaker) in the Atlanta Constitution

November 19, 1895- King’s position as a national organizer described in “The Realm of Woman,” in Chicago Daily Tribune

December 29, 1895- Atlanta Constitution reports “For their race: Negro Women Point out What their People Should do,” which describes the National Colored Woman’s Congress at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church led by Lucy Thurman –who led a discussion on the WCTU, which was indorsed by the Congress- no explicit mention of King

May 1896- Georgia Swift King presents “Intemperance as a Cause of Mortality” at AU Conference

June 1896- Georgia Swift King leads the woman’s committee for a group of black leaders including Rev. Tilman, Deacon Murphy, Rev. Hazell, Dr. W.G. Alexander, C.C. Wimbish, Prof. Cranson that condemned the way the state created crime amongst black communities by putting young black small-time offenders into the prison for long terms “in company with murderers, rapists, gamblers, burglars, drunkards and thieves of the most vile character” – this group hoped to spread the message that “the state is the guilty party; the state is responsible, because instead of trying to decrease crime it is indirectly increasing it…we are laboring for the elevation of the poor masses and the honor of the state.”

October 11, 1896: In “What the Negro is doing,” the Atlanta Constitution’s H.R. Butler reports: “The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of colored women held a very successful session in Augusta during the past week. The organization in the state, under the management of Mrs. Georgia Swift King, has done much good work for the cause of temperance. They have elected new officers from the state and hope to do some very effective work before their next annual meeting. I have not as yet been able to get a full and complete list of the names of officers. I have been informed, however, that Mrs. J.W.E. Brown, of South Atlanta, was elected state president. Knowing her as I do to be an active worker in the cause of temperance, I predict for the union in Georgia a prosperous year. Our women have my hearty-cooperation in their noble work.”

January, 1897– King is noted as an investigator for a study conducted by the Department of Labor entitled “Condition of the Negro in Various Cities.” As a “representative colored persons,” King investigated the Fourth Ward, from Boaz Street to Butler Street to Bell Street. King is among prestigious company: other investigators include Selena Sloan Butler, Marry F Pullin, Hr. Butler, George A. Towns and Adrienne E. Herndon, Mattie A. Ford, and Henry H Proctor.

May, 1897- Georgia Swift King’s participation in the First Sociological Society of Atlanta is noted in the Atlanta Constitution– the article outlines the government and by laws of the society including (“the object shall be to improve in all practical ways the social condition of the colored people of this vicinity and thereby promote the welfare of all the people. The improvement of the home shall be the objective point of its endeavors.”

May 25th, 26th, 1897- Mrs. Georgia Swift King to speak at the sociological conference at AU on city problems, presenting “Mothers’ Meetings”

March 27, 1898- Mrs. M.A. Ford is listed as the president of the WCTU No. 2 in “What the Negro is Doing” in The Atlanta Constitution although Georgia Swift King is noted as reading “a fine paper”

May 1898- Georgia Swift King is listed as the vice president of the first Sociological Club of Atlanta (President is W.E. Holmes, Secretary is Mrs. George Towns, treasurer is Miss M.E. Britton)

1900- The Kings are living in Ward 1 at 182 (or 39?) Chestnut Street with her 63 year old mother, 18 year old son and 16 year old daughter (both kids in school and literate)

1902- King was appointed by the National WCTU as a Fraternal Delegate to the Negro Young People’s Christian and Educational Congress, held in Atlanta. Other fraternal delegates include then-Georgia State No. 2 President Ariel Bowen and J.C. Murray, the State President of the YWCTU. The item is written by by Lillian M. N. Stevens and Susanna M.D. Fry, the President and Corresponding Secretary of the white WCTU chapters

1904– Annabelle King graduates from the normal school of Atlanta University

1910- The Kings (now 29 years of marriage) are living in the same home; her mother Felice is working as a seamstress at home and Washington is described as a contract Bridge builder and an employer; his son Ernest is now 27, a bridge builder and an employee. Annabelle is 25, unmarried, and a teacher at a city school.

1910-1919- Annabelle King serves on the faculty of Atlanta University

April 18, 1918 – In this letter to DuBois, King reveals her personal relationship with the Atlanta University professor – thanking him for his Christmas card and sending love to his wife and daughter. She also highlights the recent February 1918 edition of the Crisis, noting that “I wish many white citizens to have a copy and shall try to supply them.” She recalled handing an issue to Rebecca Latimer Felton, a fellow WCTU leader and noted white supremacist, adding “wish you might have witnessed the interview.” She notes that she was proud to have been invited to the Golden Jubilee Banquet and discusses the funeral of the mother of Adrienne Herndon, a professor at Atlanta university and wife of Alonzo Herndon, the founder and president of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company and Atlanta’s wealthiest black citizen.

1920- Georgia Swift King is at the same home but Washington has died (“one of the state’s most noted civil engineers and bridge builders”); she has no occupation listed and is supported by Ernest, now 38 and a contractors in the bridge building industry and her mother, now 82 and no longer working as a seamstress.

1930– Georgia Swift King is living at the same home, valued at $6000. She does not own a radio set. She is still living with Ernest, who is now listed as a civil engineer and an employer.

May 23, 1932- King’s son Ernest passes away from a paralytic stroke

May, 17, 1944- King dies from injuries sustained by a fall. She was survived by five nieces. Funeral led by Mr. John P. Whittaker, registrar of Atlanta University and Morehouse College (and adviser for King) at First Congregational Church in Atlanta.

May 18: Three speakers paid tribute to Mrs King, referring to her sturdiness of character the depth of her spirituality, and her determination to live a life of Christian helpfulness. Mr. Whittaker, whose friendship with her began when he was a student at Atlanta University, described the deceased as a person of fine character whose gratitude was expressed not only by words but by caring for others, which she exhibited through a strong handshake, a daily deed of kindness, a prayer, or a passage of scripture. All of these things, he said, were mixed with a feeling of sincerity, which made one feel that here is someone who really cares. Reverend John C. Wright, pastor of the First Congregational church, referred to Mrs. King’s faithfulness to the Church, and above all, to her abiding faith in God. He mentioned that she was a woman who worked for ‘causes’ and at one time headed the Woman’s Temperance Union in this state. Reverend William J. Faulkner, dean of the chapel at Fisk University, spoke briefly of Mrs. King’s spiritual life, referring to the times she would go ‘into the upper chamber’ to offer prayer for those who were in need. She often would invite others to join her in praying for the needy, he stated.”

May 21: “She numbered among her pupils Mrs. Jane Hope Lyons, Dean of Women at Spelman College; and the late President John Hope of Atlanta University and Morehouse College. She knew personally all of the presidents of Atlanta University including Edmund Asa Ware, Horace Bumstead, Edward Twitchell Ware, Myron W. Adams, John Hope and Rufus E. Clement. Through the years, Mrs. King was a faithful member of First Congregational Church. She seldom missed any activity sponsored by the Atlanta University System and was a familiar figure on the campuses of Spelman College, Atlanta University and Morehouse College.”

She was buried in South View Cemetery in Atlanta

Historians on Georgia Swift King:

“Middle-class women of both races were concerned with improving the quality of mothering, but the issue had special importance for African American activists who daily faced white stereotypes of the immoral black woman and the dysfunctional black home. Georgia women shared with Mary Church Terrell the belief that higher moral standards and better homes were the key to racial progress. They hoped that mother’s clubs and home visits would improve perceptions of black womanhood by inculcating middle-class values in the working poor. Female participants in the 1897 Atlanta University conference expressed concern about ‘an apparent increase in immorality,’ and urged black club women to use community-based organizations to promote chastity, thrift, temperance, and cleanliness. Georgia Swift King asserted that since ‘the destiny of the Negro race is largely in the hands of its mothers, educational mothers’ meetings could positively impact entire communities. Selena Sloan Butler, who later oufnded the Georgia Congress of Colored Parents and teachers used the establishment of day nurseries for young children whose mothers and olde siblings had tow work outside the home. Like white kindergartens, back middle-class women came to see themselves as surrogate mothers, but their commitment to racial progress – and to instilling a sense of race pride and unity in the poor- imparted another dimension to their public mothering.” – 202

Rebecca S. Montgomery, The Politics of Education in the New South: Women and Reform in Georgia, 1890-1930

At the first Atlanta University Conference three of the six papers on the research topic of the causes of high black urban mortality rates were presented by women alumnae. The papers of Georgia Swift King, Rosa Morehead Bass, and Lucy Laney were as well informed and analytical as those of the three male presenters – two medical doctors and a college professor. All six suffered from the tendency to draw some conclusions that represented their opinions rather than sticking only to those that flowed from their evidence. King, a WCTU leader, combined a learned review of the medical literature on alcoholism with her unsubstantiated opinion that the overwhelming majority of black and white city dwellers drank to excess.” 97

“The Atlanta City Conference was just one site of ongoing sociological studies by black women, but we can best trace their activities from brief and tantalizing accounts within its published reports. Georgia Swift King, an 1874 Atlanta University normal school graduate, did not confine her interest in survey research to her frequent participation in the May Atlanta University conferences. She organized the Sociological Club of Atlanta ‘to study the condition of the lowly and in all possible ways improve it.’ This club had both men and women members and elected a male president. King also had moved quickly to establish social services based on her research findings. She and the WCTU had begun a ‘partially successful’ day nursery for working mothers before the City Conferences second meeting in 1897.” 101

“University publications praised the activities of Laney, Georgia Swift King, and other normal school alumnae from the 1870s and 1880s who were school founders or principals or leaders of organizations, but the public chronology of the university began with extensive recognition and accolades for the 1876 graduation of its all male college class. The four women in Laney’s normal school class of 1873 were actually the first Atlanta University graduates. Only one woman earned a bachelor’s degree from Atlanta University between 1876 and 1895. Seven women received bachelor’s degrees from Atlanta University between 1895 and 1900, but even this small change caused unfavorable comments in the student and administration newspapers. The fact that a number of the women graduates won oratory and literary prizes caused editorial assertions that black men’s positions at the university were being unfairly superseded. When two brilliant young women graduated from Atlanta University in 1895, the official publication of the university downplayed the achievements of both by not giving their names, even though there were only four graduates that year…” 106

Francine Rusan Wilson, Segregated Scholars and the Creation of Black Labor Studies, 1890-1950

“As these examples suggest, the willingness to embrace scientific advice varied significantly with class, race and ethnicity. Middle-class African American women and those aspiring to class mobility linked the ‘mother’s meetings’ they organized to racial progress. Concerned about high infant mortality and declining birth rates among African Americans, women like Atlanta University graduate Georgia Swift King referred to maternal education as a way to assure ‘the destiny of the Negro race.’ After all, as the middle-class oriented, African American publication Half-Century Magazine noted, ‘better babies are a sign of progress… a crop of puny, under-nourished infants can hardly be expected to develop uno a race of robust men and women.’” 92

– Jodi Vandenberg-Daves, Modern Motherhood: An American History

“Perhaps more influential precursors to baby welfare activism among African Americans were ‘mothers’ meetings.’ These local clubs provided women with opportunities toe exchange ideas about baby health and attend talks on heredity or morality; they became common institutions among aspiring and middle-class black women during the 1890s. One such convert to the movement, Atlanta University graduate Georgia Swift King, believed frequent infant deaths and persistent reports of declining Afro-American birthrates justified mothers’ meetings among as many black women as possible. In 1897, King contended that such meetings were critical sites where ‘all classes of women… even the illiterate’ could learn sanitary methods of handling and feeding infants, thus securing ‘the destiny of the Negro race.’ Other club women shared King’s convictions. For example, declarations regarding the need for mothers’ meetings were integrated into major national platforms…b luck women were therefore instrumental in providing grassroots support for improving the health and the quality of their lives.” 97

-Michelle Mitchell, Righteous Propagation: African Americans and the Politics of Racial Destiny after Reconstruction

“On these occasions, prominent temperance leaders, including Mrs. Georgia Swift King, longtime President of the Georgia State Temperance Union and a graduate of the University in the normal class of 1874, frequently spoke to the girls on the evils of drink.” 209

– Clarence Albert Bacote, The Story of Atlanta University: A century of service, 1865-1895

“Georgia Swift King, a graduate of Atlanta University, was state president of Georgia Union No.2, Georgia’s black state union….” 171

– Ruth Bordin, Woman and Temperance