NC Black Media Past and Present

With the release of Wilmington Race Riot Commission report we receive a way overdue official history of what happened on November 10, 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Did you know about this bloody coup d’etat? I hadn’t until I read “Blood Done Sign My Name”. Thanks Tim Tyson. Thank you Yolanda Carrington for telling me about this report.

Over one hundred years ago armed white men overthrew the LEGALLY elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina killing many people, driving out the local Republican leadership, and terrorizing the Black community. (Lest we forget the Republican party of those days was supportive of equal rights. It was the Dixie Democrats who were the racist segregationist.) You can read more about this untold historic event in the book “Democracy betrayed: the Wilmington race riot of 1898 and its legacy” and the website For The Record.

An interesting part of this story is the suppression of African American free speech. During the attack the Daily Record, reported to be the only black newspaper in the country at the time, was burnt to the ground. Some say this action was the spark that lit the massive violence of November 10. The Commission report writes of the involvement of North Carolina newspaper editors like Josephus Daniels – founder of the Raleigh paper The News and Observer.

Involved in the conspiracy were men prominent in the Democratic Party, former Confederate officers, former officeholders, and newspaper editors locally and statewide rallied by Josephus Daniels of the Raleigh News and Observer.

– Wilmington Race Riot Commission [PDF], Summary, pg. 5

Its important to note that the beginning of many coups and military actions begin with the destruction of communications. First a rally cry to those sympathetic to the cause via racist newspaper articles. Then outright physical destruction of the source of the oppositions communications. In this case it was the destruction of a black owned newspaper.

So when the modern conservatives try and dispel this report saying it doesn’t have anything to do with people in the present, tell them, “This violence was committed in your white name. To preserve white dominance over politics and power. Help restore the damage of the past now!”

I second the recommendation of the Commission that an endowment be created for young black journalists in North Carolina.

Newspapers (News and Observer, Charlotte Observer, Wilmington Star, Washington Post, etc.) should acknowledge the role of media in the events of 1898 and work with the North Carolina black press association to prepare a summary of the Commission report for distribution statewide. The Commission calls upon said papers to study the effects of 1898 and impact of Jim Crow on the state’s black press and to endow scholarships at the state’s public universities.

Hopefully these funds will be available to all types of media makers. Not just for young men and women entering corporate media outlets. Community journalists in small magazines, blogs, podccasts, public access tv, vloggs, etc. should be included too. Fund the salaries of several committed black activists to mentor and encourage young media makers.

Read what other bloggers have to say about the report from Wilmington.
Eric Muller
Sally Green
Y. Carrington