Wilmington Race Riots

Good for bidness

Jack Betts does a nice job today in his Charlotte Observer column on the 1898 Wilmington Race riots . . . highlighting the business-led conspiracy campaign for white supremacy in North Carolina.

In December, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission -- created by the 2000 legislature -- produced a 600-page draft report that documents how white business leaders and Democratic Party officials launched a duplicitous campaign to throw blacks out of office in Wilmington and replace them with whites.

When it was over, the federal government had done nothing to stop the violent overthrow of a legally elected Republican municipal government. Nor did it bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of an unknown number of black citizens, wounding of many others, burning of a black newspaper, firing of black workers or the running out of town of a number of black leaders. Barely a year later, the state adopted a new voting law that effectively disenfranchised most black voters and many poor whites as well, depriving a major portion of the state's population of the right to vote for much of the 20th century.

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.

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