Not playing possum: the real thing
Here's what I had to say about it last year. No, I haven't been. Maybe next year.
"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.
The report concludes that the rioting and coup fully ended black participation in local government until the civil rights era, and was a catalyst for the development of Jim Crow laws in North Carolina.
"Because Wilmington rioters were able to murder blacks in daylight and overthrow Republican government without penalty or federal intervention, everyone in the state, regardless of race, knew that the white supremacy campaign was victorious on all fronts," the report said.
What if the brief flowering of equality in the war's immediate aftermath had been allowed to flourish rather than being brutally suppressed? What if the federal government had upheld the Constitution and upheld the rights of all its citizens? The story is at once poignant and urgent. The complex legacy of Reconstruction is lived every day in America. Until Americans understand that history, we are, as the saying goes, condemned to repeat it.
The riot took place in an era when similar violent attacks on black communities by white mobs occurred in Atlanta, Tulsa and Rosewood, Fla. In Wilmington, in a move unparalleled in U.S. history, a coup d'etat replaced the city's duly elected officeholders with white supremacists. . . .
"This research demonstrates unequivocally that the Wilmington Race Riot was not a spontaneous event, but was directed by white businessmen and Democratic leaders to regain control of Wilmington," says Dr. Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of the N.C. Office of Archives and History.
Compared to the sublime lightness of Renzo Piano's vaults in Dallas [he designed the Nasher Sculpture Center], it has all the elegance of a train wreck, with massive intersecting beams and thick mullions, like a floating Mark di Suvero sculpture. It may be the price of a columnless public space below, but the solution lacks precision and refinement.
It was a historic occasion. I was then with the United Press International wire service. A UPI photographer took a picture of Mrs. Parks on the bus. It shows a somber Mrs. Parks seated on the bus looking calmly out the window. Seated just behind her is a hard-eyed white man.
Each anniversary of that day, this photograph is brought out of musty files and used in various publications around the world. But to this day no one has ever made clear that it was a reporter, I, covering this event and sitting behind Mrs. Parks, not some sullen white segregationist! It was a great scoop for me, but Mrs. Parks had little to say. She seemed to want to savor the event alone.
None of that diminishes the achievement of her life, just as, perhaps, the true story of the picture need not detract from its power. It's just a reminder that history is almost always more complicated and surprising than the images that most effectively tell its story.
[R]elying on a close examination of recent Texas elections, it concluded that the plan would reduce the ability of minority voters to effectively participate in the political process, the test for discriminatory effect under Section 5 [the "preclearance" requirement of the Voting Rights Act, to which Texas among other southern states is subject].
More specifically, according to the memorandum, the plan failed to pass muster under each and every factor the Supreme Court has established for gauging whether or not a redistricting plan will reduce minority electoral opportunity. This was not a close case.
A unanimous recommendation like this would ordinarily have been affirmed by the DOJ's politically appointed higher-ups. But this one wasn't. "The Texas case provides another example of conflict between political appointees and many of the division's career employees," according to the Washington Post. Indeed. As a better Texas politician said to George Wallace in 1965 for his part in the oppressive violence that led to the Voting Rights Act in the first place, "Shame on you," Tom DeLay.