Home / US / Marker calls violence in 1898 a "coup," not a "race riot"

Marker calls violence in 1898 a "coup," not a "race riot"

The state of North Carolina moves from using the term "racial" to describe the violent overthrow of the Wilmington government in 1898 and instead uses the word "coup" on the highway's historic marker that will celebrate the dark event

The state of North Carolina moves from using the phrase "race riot" to describe the violent overthrow of the Wilmington government in 1

898 and instead uses the word "coup" on the historic marker of the highway that will celebrate the dark event.

The marker, which is already in place and covered with black plastic, will be devoted Friday in Wilmington. The title of the marker reads "Wilmington Coup", but the originally approved text referred to a "race riot", which was eventually deleted.

"You no longer call it that African Americans did not revolt," said Ansley Herring Wegner, administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. "They were massacred."

In 1898, white Democrats violently threw the merger government for legitimately elected black and white Republicans in Wilmington. Democrats burned and killed their way to power in what is considered a flashpoint for the Jim Crow era of segregation and the only successful coup in American history.
The marker stands outside the Wilmington Light Infantry building, where the crowd of white supremacists gathered before marching to The Daily Record, African American newspaper, and burning it to the ground. Alfred Moore Waddell, who led the march, took over as mayor.

The highway marker for the editor of the newspaper, Alex Manly, includes the phrase "rasriot", but it was dedicated 25 years ago.

Meanwhile, in Chapel Hill, a temporary logo has been placed over one of the plates at the University of North Carolina football stadium dedicated to a man who was a pitch coach. A newspaper report then said that Kenan Sr was responsible for the machine gun used during the coup.

News outlets report that photos this week show the logo covering Kenan's name.

The original text for the 1898 marker, which was approved in December 2017, included Waddell's name and made other references that the public found offensive, Wegner said. Wegner said the History Committee endorses the cursor's language and approved new text in the spring of 2018.

One of the people who was not happy with the original text was Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the NAACP's New Hanover County branch. She was particularly upset that the original language said that "the violence left up to 60 black dead" because it is unclear how many black people died.

"We will never know how many people died," she said. "Black life didn't matter at that time in terms of reporting or documentation."

The highway markers, known as "history on a stick", have strict space limits – usually five to six rows of 25 characters each for 3-inch letters. The cup marker has 1.5-inch letters to allow more text.

The revised marker deletes the names of Waddell and Manly, since he has his own marker.

"When you have so few words, you have to choose the best ones," Wegner said.

Maxwell hopes the marker helps "the world understand that it was not a riot," she said.

"We have to educate our children that this has happened – and the public," Maxwell said. "Many things that happen to African Americans are hidden under a rug. We have to reveal every part of our history as a country."

Follow Martha Wagoner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc.

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