1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission Hearings Scheduled

RALEIGH (May 27, 2003) The 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission, established by the General Assembly, held public hearings on three Sunday afternoons this summer. The public was invited to attend either to speak or to observe. The three sessions took place on June 29, July 20, and August 10 from 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. at the Cape Fear Museum at 814 Market Street in Wilmington.

Of particular interest to the members of the commission was the testimony of descendants of those directly affected by the upheaval and those with factual documentation pertaining to the racial violence of 1898.

The state legislature established the commission to develop a historical record of the event and to assess the economic impact of the riot on African Americans locally and across the region and state. Sponsoring the enabling legislation were two Wilmington legislators, Senator Luther H. Jordan, who died in April 2002, and Representative Thomas E. Wright, presently the group's chairman.

Professor Irving Joyner of North Carolina Central University is the vice-chair. The full board is composed of thirteen members, appointed by the legislature, the governor, mayor and city council of Wilmington, and New Hanover County Commission.

An "Open-Net" program devoted to the work of the commission aired on cable television systems across the state on July 8 at 9:00 p.m.

Destroyed 'Wilmington Record' Building
A mob stands at the ruins of Alex Manly's Daily Record office, destroyed November 10, 1898

The racial violence in Wilmington on November 10, 1898, constitutes a turning point in North Carolina history. By force, a white mob seized the reins of government and, in so doing, destroyed the local black-owned newspaper office and terrorized the African American community. In the months thereafter, political upheaval resulted across the state and legal restrictions were placed on the right of blacks to vote. The new commission is scheduled to present its final report on the Wilmington events by December 31, 2004.

Questions can be directed to the Office of Archives and History in Raleigh at (919) 807-7290.

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