Thousands sign petition to change the name of Hugh MacRae Park

Updated: Jun. 8, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - At least 3,000 people have signed a petition to change the name of Hugh MacRae Park in Wilmington.

MacRae, who was one of Wilmington’s most powerful men in the late 1800′s, was involved in the city’s insurrection in 1898 where a group of about 2,000 white men brutally killed dozens of African Americans and overthrew the local government. The 1898 massacre is the only successful coup d’etat in American history.

“We memorialize parks by naming them after people who did something good for our communities,” Beth Kline-Markesino says. “Hugh McRae was no such man. In 1898 he lead race riots throughout Wilmington ensuing violence and slaughter. Many blacks died during the riots and others were forced out of their homes altogether.”

Kline-Markesino, a community activist best known for her non-profit organization North Carolina Stop GenX in Our Water, started the petition.

This is not the first time efforts have been made to change the name. In 2015, there were discussions about changing the name of the county park, but it did not happen. In 2017, a local Black Lives Matter group announced it would stop supporting events held at Hugh MacRae Park.

For many years, blacks were not allowed to go to Hugh MacRae Park, a demand by MacRae who donated the land to the county decades ago.

County leaders are waiting until a new diversity chief is hired to discuss the possibility of changing the name. That position is expected to be filled by August.

For a look at the petition, click here.

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