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New Hanover, Wilmington will dedicate November as 1898 Commemoration Month; community leaders plan events to honor victims

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Ashley Brown
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WHQR
New Hanover County Chief Diversity and Equity Officer Linda Thompson spoke at a news conference this morning; Mayor Bill Saffo, seated front row, also spoke.

At a joint event this morning at 1898 Memorial Park, Wilmington and New Hanover County announced a calendar of events to commemorate the anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and Coup d’etat.

November 10 will mark the 123rd anniversary of the Wilmington massacre, the day an unknown number of Black residents were killed or forced out of town by a mob of armed white supremacists.

In 1898, Democrats at the time led a white supremacist campaign to drive out Populist and Republican politicians. On November 8, 1898, Democrats prevented African Americans from voting, and because of this, swept the election. On November 10, an angry mob of white men marched down to the office of The Daily Record — considered by many to have been the only daily Black-owned newspaper in the state — and set it on fire.

Violence erupted in the streets of the Northside and local elected officials were forced to resign and were replaced with white supremacist figures.

Wilmington has had to come to terms with this, and move toward healing, reconciliation, and equality. Mayor Bill Saffo says it’s an occasion to acknowledge the effort the city has made to bring change despite its history.

“Here we stand in solidarity with our neighbors, who look differently than us, who worship differently than us, who think, speak and experience life differently than us,” Saffo said.

On November 1, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will sign a proclamation declaring the month of November as 1898 commemoration month. The county, the city, and several other local organizations and partners will also host a series of events from November 1 through 10. Featured will be a ceremony at Memorial Park on November 6 and the installation of a state marker at 3rd and Red Cross streets on November 10.

A full calendar of events is available at www.diversity.nhcgov.com/1898ilm/.