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Wilmington leaders and activists call for unity at 1898 Unity Service

Community unifies to commemorate the tragedy of 1898 and build a new future
Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:46 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - On the anniversary of the 1898 massacre, leaders in Wilmington and New Hanover want those living in the city now to acknowledge its troubled past and “heal forward.”

At a Unity Service Wednesday night at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, spectators heard the words of Dr. Benjamin Chavis, president of the National Newspaper Publisher’s Association and a member of the Wilmington Ten.

Now, 123 years after the massacre and 50 years after his arrest, Chavis says he still sees the potential in Wilmington and its people.

“Wilmington, North Carolina should be the emblem of the future if we learn from the past,” Chavis said.

Chavis’ message was one of hope for the future. He believes current Wilmington residents can stay optimistic about the future.

“In order to lean forward and heal forward and launch forward we’ve got to talk about what should bring us together and not what should divide us,” said Chavis.

Also honored at the service Wednesday night was Dr. Bertha Todd. The 92-year-old former New Hanover County educator lead the charge to honor the 100th anniversary of the massacre back in the 1990s.

“They wanted to bring it out of the closet,” Todd said. “We wanted to heal a wound.”

Todd is pleased to see so many people willing to listen and learn from Wilmington’s history.

“Thank you for continuing the reconciliation process,” Todd said to the crowd.

Leaders and activists agree that the best way to move forward is to acknowledge the past and use it as a lesson for the future.

“I believe that Wilmington is a better city because we finally decided that we’re not only going to study the past, but learn from the past and we decided we’re going to live a different kind of future,” Chavis said.

The unity service marked the end of the major events planned throughout November to honor the memory of the 1898 massacre. There will be an urban hike on November 18 for you to learn more about the city’s history. Click here for more information.

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