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Events planned to commemorate 123rd anniversary of 1898 Wilmington Massacre and Coup d’état

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 4:31 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:27 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - To commemorate the 123rd anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and Coup d’état, a series of events will be held around the county from November 1-10.

New Hanover County, City of Wilmington, several local organizations and partners are collaborating to stage the events to educate the community and honor the memory of those who were killed.

City and county leaders held a news conference Tuesday morning to discuss the events. You can watch the news conference below:

“The events of November 10, 1898 and the years to follow were incredibly tragic and left deep scars in our community,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “It left an unknown number of residents dead, disenfranchised blacks, and helped spread legally sanctioned race-based segregation. The effects of those riots still linger today, but the county and city are committed to healing through acknowledgement, education and discovering our strengths together. I appreciate everyone who has come together to make this 1898 commemoration possible, so we can remember and learn from the past and never repeat that awful history.”

The commemoration will begin November 1 with the NHC Board of Commissioners signing a proclamation announcing the month of November as 1898 Commemoration Month.

A ceremony will be held at the 1898 Memorial Park at 2 p.m. on November 6 to recognize the known and unknown victims, survivors, and descendants of the coup; soil samples will be displayed from locations where killing took place. Following the ceremony, a funeral procession and graveside memorial service will be held for Joshua Halsey who was killed during the massacre. Halsey’s gravesite is the first one of the 1898 victims to be located by the Third Person Project.

“Something that really struck us and surprised us was that there had never been — there were no surviving gravesites, no burial sites where a person could stand and say ‘here lies a victim of the massacre,’” said Third Person Project representative, John Sullivan.

At 3:15 p.m., a horse-drawn carriage with the soil samples identifying Halsey will begin a procession from the corner of 6th and Bladen streets down Red Cross Street to Pine Forest Cemetery. Descendants of Halsey, and state and local leaders will be in attendance, and a graveside eulogy will be given by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II.

Community participation in the funeral procession is encouraged. WECT will live stream the procession and graveside service on social media and on WECT.com for the community to watch.

“Remembering our past is key in order to heal and acknowledge our bright future together,” said community organizer Bertha Todd. “The events planned for this commemoration should be marked on everyone’s calendar and each child in our community should be able to witness this amazing history unfold. This is a bright start in the right direction and I am grateful to witness these efforts and be a part of it all.”

On November 10, at noon, the City of Wilmington will install a state marker at the corner of 3rd and Red Cross Streets in memory of the late Reverend Dr. J. Allen Kirk, a well-known pastor and community leader who was targeted during the 1898 Riots at that location.

Also on November 10, at 6 p.m., Dr. Ben Chavis, a member of the historic Wilmington Ten, will be the keynote speaker at an 1898 Commemoration Unity service that will be held at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 4925 New Centre Drive, Wilmington, NC 28403.

Through this annual commemoration, we stand in solidarity with Wilmington’s Black residents — past, present, and future and affirm their lives matter, are worthy, and are embraced,” said Todd.

Click here for a full calendar of events and virtual options.

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