1898 Coup D'etat Marker Unveiled On Market Street

Nov 8, 2019

A new marker unveiled Friday in Wilmington refers to the events of November 1898 as a “coup” and not a “race riot” as other signs had in years past. The ceremony included reading the names of those known to have been killed on November 10, 1898.

(SFX – bells ringing; names read, fade under)

The new marker is outside the Wilmington Light Infantry building on Market Street. That’s where a mob of white supremacists met and then marched to the city’s African American-owned newspaper, The Daily Record, in 1898. They burned it to the ground.

State officials with the Highway Historical Marker Program decided such signage can no longer call the November events 121 years ago a riot -- as African American people weren't rioting. It was instead a massacre, and the only successful coup d’état in U.S. history.

“Unfortunately, we always will have to educate people about our history so we don't make those problems again in the future.”

New Hanover County NAACP President Deborah Dicks-Maxwell:

“People need to understand where we've come from and understand that we are just highlighting this now because the descendants of 1898, the survivors could not talk about it in 1910 who could talk about this as a black person. This is why in 2019 we're able to do these things.”

At least 200 people attended the ceremony. The sign is at the corner of Market and 4th. The highway markers are known as "history on a stick." Vince Winkel, WHQR News.