Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Zucchino has released a new book, Wilmington’s Lie, provides a blazing retelling of the Wilmington riots of 1898.
In the 1890s Wilmington was North Carolina’s biggest metropolitan area and a stellar example of a multi-racial community. It had an enterprising river port with a successful African American community that included black leaders, business owners and other important members. The Record was the local African American newspaper. Unfortunately, white supremacists throughout North Carolina wanted to dismantle their progress. They plotted to “take back” the city “by the ballot or bullet or both,” by overthrowing government. Influential white locals created a crusade against the black community by holding angry rallies, writing racially focused newspaper columns and cartoons, and dishonest accounts of events.
The events led to the Nov. 11, 1898 mob that sweated the Port City along the Cape Fear river. Armed white mobs marched through the town with the specific purpose of destroying black businesses, homes and establishments. There were no charges and no arrests of the mob. In the end, at least 60 people were killed, and the town’s black leadership was replaced with white racists.It was one of the very few armed insurrections in United States history, and – amazingly – is not well-known today. It is generally not taught in school and is not widely covered by the media.
Wilmington’s “lie” then is how the white racists were able to dictate the history of the events, going so far as to blame the black community while holding up the white rioters, looters and murderers as the heroes. Many knowledgable of the events feel an eery similarity to the Trump administration and some of the protests spawned by police violence against the black community.
We urge you to judge for yourself. Wilmington’s Lie is now available to read in hardcover, softcover, audio and digital