In 1951, a deadly moonshine combination poisoned 433 people throughout the black communities of Atlanta, GA.
A bootlegger by the name of John “Fat” Hardy supplied moonshine throughout the black neighborhoods to nightclub owners. This particular weekend, he had a large order for moonshine, so he cut corners and used cheat ingredients which often produced the same high as the high-quality stuff. After running out of ethanol, he replaced it with methanol, a lethal form of alcohol. This type of alcohol is made from wood products. It is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor similar to that of ethanol. However, methanol is far more toxic.
By the end of the night, 38 blacks, both men, and women were dead and numerous others left blind and paralyzed.
Grady Memorial was packed with numerous of people affected by the moonshine. A locally famous blues song, “Fats Hardy Tardy” was written by Tommy Brown about the incident. Gospel group Echoes of Zion also produced the song “Atlanta’s Tragic Monday” related to the event.
Although the police knew what had caused the illness, they were slow to get the word out throughout the black communities. The black editor of the newspaper, The World, sent delivery trucks out in the poor black neighborhoods to broadcast the warning about drinking the liquor.
The case drew national attention, and one of his business partners testified that after people fell ill from the liquor, Hardy retrieved the barrels poured the liquor in new ones, and sent the moonshine out again. Hardy was convicted on December 12, 1951 and sentenced to life in prison.