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'Wilmington's Lie' Reveals 1898 'Race Riot' Was White Supremacist Coup

wilmington coup.jpg
New Hanover County Public Library

This show originally aired Feb. 20, 2020.

In 1898, Wilmington was the site of a rare event, the violent overthrow of a duly elected local government. White supremacists forced black officials to resign at gunpoint. Journalist David Zucchino shares the story.

Thirty years after the Civil War African-Americans were making headway in Wilmington, North Carolina. By 1898, many participated in a multi-racial government.

But this angered a group of white supremacists. It led to a riot and to the violent overthrow of duly elected officials forced to resign at gunpoint. For years, this was depicted as a race riot in which 60 black men died. The ugly truth is that it was a bloody coup.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Zucchino lays it out in his book Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy. He shares how that story reverberates today.


David Zucchino, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, contributing writer for The New York Times, and Author of Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.