New film to shine light on the massacre of 1898 - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New film to shine light on the massacre of 1898

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Courtesy: ‘Wilmington on Fire’ Courtesy: ‘Wilmington on Fire’

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - A new documentary is shining a light on the Wilmington Massacre of 1898 and exploring efforts underway to possibly provide reparations to those who were impacted by the event. 

According to historians, a heavily-armed white mob attacked members of the black community, either killing them or driving them out of the city, on November 10, 1898. 

Filmmaker Christopher Everett is behind the documentary. His film, Wilmington on Fire, explores the history of the massacre.

Everett, who grew up in near-by Lumberton, explained that Wilmington was the state's largest city and it was predominately African-American. According to Everett, many black-owned businesses and homes were burnt to the ground during the massacre, which is why he is calling the film Wilmington on Fire. He says the massacre forever changed the course of the city.

Everett said there are no records of how many people were killed and he said it was one of Wilmington's best-kept secrets. That was until 2006, when it became known to the public following a report from the North Carolina general assembly.

Everett says at that time there was a push to compensate victims who could prove they were impacted by the event, but those efforts fizzled.

 He's renewing the call for something to be done to right the wrong.

"Direct decedents who can prove losses should definitely get a check," he said. "But the decedents that I talked to in the film they really think that something should be done here in Wilmington for African-Americans as far as scholarship programs, business grants, home ownership grants, something that has a real impact."

The film will be released this spring and he plans to premiere it here in Wilmington.

Everett said he hopes the film opens up the dialogue about this helps to right the wrong that happened over a 100 years ago. 

"A lot of people here don't really know anything about it," he said. "I just want to educate people about the history. To open up the discussion again about it."

He said that what happened in 1898 had a lasting impact on the community and even eventually led to the race riots and the Wilmington 10 case.

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