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Attack on U.S. Capitol causes renewed interest in 1898 Wilmington Massacre

Updated: Jan. 19, 2021 at 10:55 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Security for the Presidential inauguration has increased after the events of January 6 when supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol building and five people lost their lives.

The insurrection on that day brought the 1898 Wilmington Massacre into the national spotlight.

It was a frightening reminder of the day when white supremacists overthrew the existing city government and killed dozens of Black leaders.

In 2015, Chris Everett directed and produced “Wilmington on Fire,” a movie about the Wilmington Massacre of 1898. Everett says he’s seen an increase in views of his movie since the events on January 6.

“When things like this happen, people get on the internet and start researching,” says Everett. “They find out things like Wilmington on Fire and the 1898 Massacre.”

He says he made the movie to educate people about one of the darkest days in the city’s history, so it’s not repeated.

“It’s about teaching us to learn from our past mistakes,” says Everett. “So, we won’t make those same mistakes again. But it seems like we keep on making the same mistakes over again.”

For years, those events where not talked about, and finally in 2008 a memorial was built to remember what happened.

“Look at how long it took for the memorial to be built,” said President of the New Hanover County NAACP Deborah Maxwell. “It was something that was hidden for the safety of those who it occurred to. It was best for them not to talk about it at that time if you think about it. So that’s why it took such a long-time span from what happened to talking about what happened.”

While change is slow, Everett believes Wilmington is moving in the right direction.

“Wilmington, the city, is learning from its mistakes,” said Everett. “We’re not perfect...the city of Wilmington isn’t perfect...and it still has a long way to go. But you have some individuals out here who are trying to help correct those wrongs in a positive way.”

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