Wilmington Race Riots in the New York Times

An important event in North Carolina's history was the Wilmington race riots of 1898, which resulted in the only successful overthrow of a local government in the history of the United States. The riot occurred on November 10, 1898, an election day. The City was being run by a Black and Republican government during reconstruction. On the election day, the Republicans were defeated in part by a ballot box stuffing campaign. After the vote, some Whites attempted to gain control of the city immediately. When the sitting government refused, riots ensued.

The first headline in New York regarding the event was entitled "Whites Kill Negroes and Seize City of Wilmington" (photo included below). The newest headline in New York addresses not just the event but also the findings of the Wilmington Race Commission, a commission created by the NC legislature to examine the events. The New York Times posted a story entitled "North Carolina City Confronts Its Past in Report on White Vigilantes" today here.

The story is a very interesting read for anyone interested in North Carolina history or racial riots. The commission issued a draft report of their findings on December 15th, and the NYT mentions the most important findings of the commission. The most important finding of the commission seems to be the refuting of local (white) history that the riots were the result of a corrupt Republican regime. The commission concluded that the riots were a planned insurrection by white supremacists. From the NYT:

Only scant mention is made, however, of the bloody rioting more than a century ago during which black residents were killed and survivors banished by white supremacists, who seized control of the city government in what historians say is the only successful overthrow of a local government in United States history.

But last week, Wilmington revisited that painful history with the release of a draft of a 500-page report ordered by the state legislature that not only tells the story of the Nov. 10, 1898, upheaval, but also presents an analysis of its effects on black families that persist to this day.

Culled from newspaper clippings, government records, historical archives and interviews, some previously unexplored, the report explodes oft-repeated local claims that the insurrection was a frantic response to a corrupt and ineffective post-Reconstruction government.

"The ultimate goal was the resurgence of white rule of the city and state for a handful of men through whatever means necessary," the historian LeRae Umfleet wrote in the report's introduction.

Check out the report and article. They are fascinating reads.

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