Source: Star News
Speakers in Wilmington warned of parallels between today’s hate groups and threats to democracy during a town hall to commemorate the 124th anniversary of the massacre and coup d’état.
November 8, 1898, marks the day in which white supremacists orchestrated a violent response to the rise of a thriving Black community with growing political power, known as The 1898 Wilmington Massacre.
On that day, violent white supremacists attacked and killed Black citizens, banished locals from the city and overthrew the local government – placing their own candidates in the seats.
Speakers at the town hall mirrored the armed and violent groups like the Red Shirts who patrolled polling stations during the election leading to November 8, 1898, to groups like the Proud Boys today, who have participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and have shown up at polling places across the country.
While many reflect and remember those who were lost during the horrifying event that has impacted generations of Black residents in Wilmington, some groups and Republicans are attempting to erase the gravity of the massacre.
Groups like The John Locke Foundation, a far-right organization, have promoted a fictional romanticized version of the violent piece of history, with a film that is coincidently being produced during a time when education is under attack by extremist Republicans.
For months, far-right politicians and activists have been attempting to erase what little history students are learning, particularly, Black history. With Republicans pushing forth laws and censorship measures against school curricula and books that talk about Black and Brown history and experiences, many educators across the country have been hesitant to teach accurate history due to fear of being accused of radicalizing children.
New Hanover’s very own school board member Pete Wildeboer has vocalized similar extremist rhetoric.
As Opinion writer for The Charlotte Observer Paige Masten states, “The way to reckon with our history is not by fictionalizing it, or by pretending like it’s completely behind us. We still see attempts to suppress the political power of Black citizens through election laws and gerrymandering. We still see state-sanctioned violence against Black people. We still see white backlash to progress — backlash that sometimes turns violent. To tell the story of Wilmington without acknowledging the many parallels between our past and present won’t stop us from repeating it.”