Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot "Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot" tells the story of one of the first major Civil Rights era riots in the South. The riot happened in Augusta, Georgia from May 11-13, 1970,. The immediate cause was the suspicious death of Charles Oatman, an African American teenager held in the county jail. During the riot, six black men were killed by white police officers, all of them shot in the back. Much of Augusta's black business district was also set ablaze, including many white and Chinese-American owned businesses. Some 1,500 members of the National Guard were called in to ease the unrest. Despite all the chaos, the riot has largely been forgotten, even in Georgia.
Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot

Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot

From WRAS

"Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot" tells the story of one of the first major Civil Rights era riots in the South. The riot happened in Augusta, Georgia from May 11-13, 1970,. The immediate cause was the suspicious death of Charles Oatman, an African American teenager held in the county jail. During the riot, six black men were killed by white police officers, all of them shot in the back. Much of Augusta's black business district was also set ablaze, including many white and Chinese-American owned businesses. Some 1,500 members of the National Guard were called in to ease the unrest. Despite all the chaos, the riot has largely been forgotten, even in Georgia.

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Bonus: Telling The Story

Host Sea Stachura and editor Keocia Howard look back on the making of "Shots in the Back: Exhuming the 1970 Augusta Riot."

Episode 6: Was The Augusta Riot Worth It?

Was the Augusta riot worth it? Fifty years after the uprising, we look at the societal changes that it sparked, and what the Civil Rights Movement looks like today.

Bonus: No Peace, No Justice, 1970

In 1970, what happened in Augusta was actually part of a larger national story as campuses across the country were shut down due to protests.

Episode 5: The Smoke Clears

In the months following Augusta's riot, activism was at an all-time high. As white Augustans braced themselves for the possibility of more violence, Black activists worked for more immediate change. Meanwhile, the police department rewarded the officers involved in the riot, and the friends and families of "The Augusta Six" demanded justice.

Bonus: All Cakes Should Be Equal

Students from the Jessye Norman School of the Arts have been working hard to tell the story of the 1970 Augusta riot in the podcast, Shots in the Back. Half of these students are white, while the rest are Black. That dynamic has made it intimidating to talk about racism in the classroom. In this bonus episode, several of them share their fears about racism.

Episode 4: Shoot To Kill

Inside the chaos of the uprising, Black and white leaders were trying to quell the violence. As rioters set fire to white-owned businesses, police officers were told to shoot to kill. In this episode, we tell the stories of the six Black men killed by white police officers. The victims, who were all shot in the back, would be remembered as The Augusta Six.

Episode 3: The Days Of The Riot

In this timeline of the 48-hour uprising in Augusta, we chart its chronological and geographic path. We hear about rioters who targeted Chinese-owned businesses, while police in armored personnel carriers patrolled the streets. The National Guard also surrounded Paine College, a historically black college.

Bonus: People Called Him Charlie

A listener reaches out to share his memories of Charlie Oatman. Fred McBrayer was a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Augusta, who worked with Oatman at his high school.

Episode 2: A Lay Of The Land In 1970 Augusta

Why were Black Augustans so angry about Charles Oatman's death? Because it was a symbol for the myriad of other injustices and oppressions that they have dealt with everyday. This episode weaves together seemingly isolated issues that together stymied the progress and equality of Augusta's Black citizens.

Bonus: Could Charles Oatman's Death Happen Today?

Students from the Jessye Norman School of the Arts reflect on what they learned in the first episode of the podcast about Charles Oatman's 1970 death in a Richmond County jail. They also draw on comparisons to Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas jail cell in 2015.

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