New Hanover County, Wilmington, organizations and partners have worked together on plans to commemorate Nov. 3-13 the 124th anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington massacre and coup d’état.
Events leading up to the Nov. 10, 1898, massacre began in 1897 when the state’s conservative Democratic Party launched a white supremacy campaign to drive politicians with the “fusion” of the People’s or Populist Party and Republican Party out of office during the 1898 election.
White supremacists on Nov. 8, 1898, used threats and intimidation to stop African Americans from voting and tampered with the returns, leading to Democrats sweeping the election, according to Cape Fear Museum of History and Science.
Two days after the contested election on Nov. 10, 1898, a mob of armed white men marched to the office of The Daily Record, the local African American newspaper, and set it ablaze. After burning The Daily Record offices, a violent mob took to the streets, and in the Northside part of the city, attacked African Americans, where an unknown number died. Black and white residents were “banished” from the city. On the same day, local elected officials were forced to resign and were replaced by white supremacist leaders.
“Once generally referred to as a ‘riot,’ these events are now more widely understood to have been a white supremacist massacre and a coup d’état,” according to the museum.
Commemoration events officially begin with the Wilmington History 101: Lunchtime Lesson from noon-3 p.m. Nov. 3. Organized by the 1898 observance committee, this event will be at 1898 Memorial Park, 1018 N. 3rd St., as an opportunity for attendees to learn more about 1898 and the monument recognizing the lives lost and damage to the community.
“Last year, the community turnout for our 1898-related events was truly amazing. We saw families and individuals from a diverse range of backgrounds in our community and region take part and learn about what happened more than 120 years ago, how it changed our community then and still shapes things today,” New Hanover County Chief Diversity and Equity Officer Linda Thompson said in a statement. “This year, we are fortunate to have even more opportunities taking place thanks to new community partners who were eager to get involved. There are events appropriate for all ages and we look forward to seeing our community turn out to learn more and continue healing forward.”
Events throughout the 10-day period include the following:
- 1898 Church Revival photo exhibit that will be set up from 2-4 p.m. Nov. 6 at Wilmington City Hall. This gallery will feature photos from many of the Wilmington area’s historic African American churches from back more than 100 years ago, along with other historical Black figures like Alexander Manly, allowing residents to look back at history and possibly see images of family from decades ago.
- 1898 pastors prayer lunch 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Harrelson Center will bring local religious leaders from around the area together for a time of prayer to encourage healing and unity within the community.
- Wreath-laying ceremony 10 a.m. Nov. 10 at the 1898 Memorial Park. Local elected officials from New Hanover County and Wilmington will join community members to commemorate the day the massacre and coup d’état took place.
- Unity service 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10. The community is invited to St. Luke AME Zion Church for the service and message from Deborah Maxwell, president of the North Carolina Chapter of the NAACP.
For more about all 1898 events taking place throughout the community, visit diversity.nhcgov.com/1898ILM.