Thoughts on 1898 "Race Riot"
Posted in the Wilmington Forum
Since: Feb 12
#1 Feb 21, 2012
Having familiarized myself with the history of the unfortunate events surrounding the saddest chapter in Wilmington's history, I cant help but wonder if the final injustice wrought from that period has been its name; to this day it is still listed, locally, as a "race riot". The Cape Fear Museum and history markers refer to it as such - which is an out right shame. Internet research on the events correctly lists it as the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898, or, Wilmington Massacre of 1898, both of which more accurately reflect the realities of the situation.
When one considers the violence brought to the blacks of the area by the very individuals whose family names (and descendents) can be found in every corner of our present day city, it comes as no surprise that the term "race riot" would be used, as it has a more neutral/tourist friendly ring to it - it is also a phrase that implies involvement by two sides, when the fact of the matter remains that the thousands of lives either shattered or ended that day belonged to blacks, alone. None of the whites instigators or perpetrators were harmed, much less killed.
How the city has handled this matter clearly reflects the tarnished image it has left the region, and its best known "old-money" families, with. My hope is we as a city will someday be able to owe up to what really happened, and own our past mistakes. The unprovoked, one sided massacre of innocent unarmed citizens in the streets of their home town ISN'T a riot, and sticking to that historically falsehood shows that we have a long ways to go to be honest with ourselves and our heritage.
Thank you for your time.
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