NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are joining several local organizations and partners to commemorate the 123rd anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and Coup d’état. From November 1-10, events will take place around the county to educate the community and honor the memory of those who were killed. The history of 1898 and a calendar with commemoration events can be viewed at Diversity.NHCgov.com/1898ILM.
“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.”
To start the commemoration, on November 1, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners will sign a proclamation announcing the month of November as 1898 Commemoration Month. Additional events will take place over the next week and a half, including a ceremony at 2 p.m. on November 6 at the 1898 Memorial Park held by the New Hanover County Community Remembrance Project to display soil samples from locations where Black residents were slaughtered by a white mob. The ceremony will recognize the known and unknown victims, survivors and descendants from both groups.
Following the ceremony on November 6, a funeral procession and graveside memorial service will be held in memory of the late Joshua Halsey who was killed during the massacre and coup d’état. Halsey’s gravesite is the first to be located of the 1898 victims, which is a notable discovery made by the Third Person Project. Beginning 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 will be in attendance, along with state and local leaders, and a graveside eulogy will be given by Rev. Dr. William Barber, II. The community is encouraged to line the streets for the funeral procession, and WECT will live stream the procession and graveside service on its social media pages 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.”
In addition, at noon on November 10, 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. That same day, at 6:30 p.m., an 1898 Commemoration Unity Service will be held at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church featuring Dr. Ben Chavis, a member of the historic Wilmington Ten, as keynote speaker.
“The events of 1898 left our community broken. One hundred twenty-three years later, we’re still working toward healing and reconciliation. The events planned are especially poignant as we see a renewed fight for justice and equality. 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.”
A full calendar of the events, virtual links and streaming information can be found at Diversity.NHCgov.com/1898ILM. For more information, call the county’s Office of Diversity & Equity at 910-798-7430.
A news conference with more details on the commemoration activities, featuring several of the event coordinators, will be held on Tuesday, October 12 at 10:30 a.m. at 1898 Memorial Park. The news conference will be live streamed on New Hanover County’s Facebook page and the City of Wilmington’s Facebook page.