Wilmington Insurrection of 1898
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The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, also known as the Wilmington Massacre of 1898 or the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898, occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 10, 1898 and following days; it is considered a turning point in North Carolina politics following Reconstruction.
Originally labeled a race riot, it is now termed a coup d’etat, as white Democratic insurrectionists overthrew the legitimately elected local government, the only such event in United States history.
In the Wilmington Insurrection, two days after the election of a white mayor and biracial city council, Democratic white supremacists illegally seized power from the elected government. More than 1500 white men participated in an attack on the black newspaper, burning down the building. They ran officials and community leaders out of the city, and killed many blacks in widespread attacks, but especially destroyed the Brooklyn neighborhood. They took photographs of each other during the events.
The Wilmington Light Infantry (WLI) and federal Naval Reserves, told to quell the riot, used rapid-fire weapons and killed several black men in the Brooklyn neighborhood. Both black and white residents later appealed for help after the riot to President William McKinley, who did not respond. More than 2,000 blacks left the city permanently, turning it from a black-majority to a white-majority city.
In the 1990s, a grassroots movement arose in the city to acknowledge and discuss the events more openly, and try to reconcile the different accounts of what happened, similar to efforts in Florida and Oklahoma to recognize the early 20th-century race riots of Rosewood and Tulsa, respectively. The city planned events around the insurrection’s centennial in 1998, and numerous residents took part in discussions and education events.
In 2000 the state legislature authorized a commission to produce a history of the events and to evaluate the economic impact and costs to black residents, with consideration of reparation for descendants of victims. Its report was completed in 2006.
Read more here.
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