Friday, November 17, 2006

"The ghosts of 1898"

The report of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission, produced at the direction of the North Carolina General Assembly, is a milstone in the state's history, as I wrote at the time it was published last December. Following the report, in late May, the Commission submitted to the General Assembly a set of recommended compensatory actions. Among them:

The commission recommended that several newspapers - including the Star-News - which reported on the event as it happened, to work with the North Carolina black press association to prepare a summary of the commission report, study the effects of 1898 and impact of Jim Crow on the state's black press and endow scholarships for black journalists.

The Star-News itself pledged to "work with other state media to address the commission's recommendations."

The special section published today jointly by the Raleigh News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer, and included in today's Wilmington Star-News, responds to this recommendation by bringing the highlights of the report to a broad audience. Wisely, the two papers chose Tim Tyson to write the narrative--not only because he's a great writer and ideally qualified, but also because, as editor Melanie Sill points out, the Raleigh and Charlotte papers were active participants in this sorry history.

UPDATE 11/19: Today's N&O includes interviews with four descendants of players in the event, two white and two black: George Rountree III, Anne Russell, Lewin Manly, and Faye Chaplin. These are important contributions to the story.

No comments: