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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Jan 16, 2021, 11:02 PM

3. Recent Book, Wilmington's Lie

'Wilmington's Lie' Author Traces The Rise Of White Supremacy In A Southern City
January 13, 20201:25 PM ET
Heard on Fresh Air

Pod Cast and transcript


Journalist David Zucchino says Wilmington, N.C., was once a mixed-race community with a thriving black middle class. Then, in 1898, white supremacists staged a murderous coup that changed everything.

Wilmington's Lie
The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

by David Zucchino

Hardcover, 426 pages

From the transcript

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The American South in the post-Reconstruction era was a land of broken promises and brutal oppression for African Americans, as white leaders stripped former slaves of many of the civil and voting rights they'd won after the Civil War. But in the 1890s, the port city of Wilmington, N.C., was an exception. It had a thriving black middle class, a large black electorate and a local government that included black aldermen, police officers and magistrates.

That ended in 1898 with a bloody campaign of violence and intimidation by white supremacists, which our guest journalist David Zucchino calls America's first and only armed overthrow of a legally elected government. Zucchino chronicles the events in a new book called "Wilmington's Lie: The Murderous Coup Of 1898 And The Rise Of White Supremacy." David Zucchino is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He's covered war and civil conflicts in more than three dozen countries and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting from apartheid South Africa. He spoke with FRESH AIR's Dave Davies.

DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: Well, David Zucchino, welcome to FRESH AIR. This is an amazing story. And it's set in Wilmington, N.C., in the 1890s. It's a coastal city, then the largest city in North Carolina - right? - and remarkable for the status that African Americans held at that city at a, you know - which was a city in the Deep South. Give us a sense of where black citizens stood in Wilmington then.

DAVID ZUCCHINO: Wilmington was really an outlier. It was really a unique city in the South at that time. It was - first of all, it was a majority black city, and it was probably one of the very, very few major cities in the South that had a black majority. It was 56% black. There was a multiracial government at the time, where blacks served in positions of power, and that was extremely rare in the South at that time. There were three black aldermen. There were 10 black policemen. There were black magistrates. There was a daily black newspaper, which was very unusual in the South. There weren't that many because the white media really dominated.

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