An Independence Day Flashback to the Black Elite of 1898 Wilmington NC

Blackpast.org/Collier’s Weekly. Angry White Mob in Wilmington, NC, 1898.

As the nation continues to celebrate the Declaration of Independence into the weekend, where Americans jog their memory to remember why 1776 happened, let’s not forget the lesser known stories from America’s growing pains in the late 1800s. One of those histories is the upward mobility of successful Black business people and politicians in Wilmington, North Carolina during the Reconstruction Era (1870s – 1890s). Following the end of the Civil War, which brought physical slavery to an end, Wilmington Blacks, mostly Republican, were progressing well, even during a time when white supremacist Democrats were gradually taking over North Carolina state politics.

They were quite visible in business, local and state politics, and the press. The success was received with mixed reviews from their white peers. Some were ok coexisting with successful blacks while others were looking for excuses to run them out of town for not knowing their place, so to speak. The video below can explain the details better, but long story short, this city was an example of what good came out of the ugly backdrop of slavery, and if left alone, would have shown the world that the land of freedom that was the United States is not a hypocrite, but true to its mission.

Unfortunately, that was never to be, either in Wilmington, or any other city where blacks excelled and prospered.

There’s a site that offers an alternative to this narrative that seeks to basically blame rogue “negroes” for causing the ensuing massacre that left way more blacks dead than whites (which was typical during that era). Black homes, rich and poor, were decimated and many, including the leading black paper editor, fled for their safety, losing everything. On top of that, the white men who go mad at a black editorial that claimed that white women loved black men as much as white men loved black women issued a 1898 White Man’s Declaration of Independence right afterwards. Who does that? You the reader can decide on this alternative view, but one has to be skeptical when a source claims to be unbiased, yet blame blacks for a massacre that leaves more blacks dead than whites.

This story is quite compelling and represents a real, sobering chapter in American history that should not be forgotten while the fireworks and BBQ light things up. Hope you enjoy this alternate Independence Day narrative. Stories like this make one want to have a Declaration of Reparations Day instead.

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