Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wilmington report published today

The hundredth anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Race Riots sparked an interest in coming to terms with what really happened. In 2000, the legislature appointed a commission "to develop a historical record" through detailed examination of source materials as well as interviews of descendants of people involved.

Sometime about now (11 a.m. today), the draft report is being issued. It's online too, which is wonderful. From the news release (.pdf),

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.

Surely this study will confirm that to call it a "riot" was, itself, a rhetorical attempt to deny reality. A "riot" suggests an emotional outburst: what happened in Wilmington was coldly calculated.

UPDATE: NYT report.

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