During the 1920s, Atlanta’s Palmer Building housed the national offices of the Commission for Interracial Cooperation (CIC), which was founded by a handful of progressive Southern academics and Social Gospel-advocating Christian leaders in 1919.
Located on the current site of the downtown Atlanta Post Office, CIC headquarters was situated just a few blocks northwest of the English American Building (known today as the Flatiron) on Broad Street, home of the Ku Klux Klan‘s recruiting office.
During this time, Klan membership exploded as it publicly espoused its ties to Protestant churches and to “defending” womanhood. Meanwhile, the CIC quietly initiated a calculated, subversive counter-attack via longstanding relationships with Southern newspaper editors, influential clergymen, Protestant church publications, and the Federal Council of Churches.
Within just a few years, the CIC’s efforts were amplified by its vast network of state and local franchises, as well as its deep well of knowledge about the Klan’s leadership and questionable tactics (CIC members even attended and reported-back on Klan rallies!). In fact, the commission’s work informed the New York World‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning (1922) series on the Klan, which led to a congressional investigation into the organization’s financial dealings. By 1924, the Atlanta-based CIC helped diminish the public image of the Klan, which experienced shrinking national membership.
“What I like about Southern Liberals is that they have the same temperament as the Conservatives. They are tough. They, and they don’t walk away from a fight.” — Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home