Long termed a “race riot,” the turmoil that enveloped Wilmington, North Carolina started on November 8, 1898, is now called an armed insurrection. White supremacists drove from power every Republican black and white elected officials of this predominately African American city in what was believed to be the only violent overthrow of a local government in United States history. Southern Democrats, aka, Southern Klan members decided over those 2 days of the white mob terroristic actions to completely erase any signs of black political and economic power in Wilmington, North Carolina. After this white mob ploy, it would be another 7 decades before blacks gained back any semblance of power in this North Carolina city.
Twenty-two blacks were killed during the insurrection and hundreds of African American citizens were forced to flee the city, many of whom never returned. What appears below is a rare eyewitness account provided by Rev. Charles S. Morris who became one of the refugees from the city. Morris provided the account in a speech in January 1899 before the International Association of Colored Clergymen meeting in Boston. So join me today on the 121st anniversary of the destruction of the black community of Wilmington North Carolina. This coming only 43 years after the passage of the first of the Civil War Amendments supposedly guaranteeing equal citizenship to every former enslaved person in this nation.