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Sunday, November 19, 2006

News & Observer: The Ghosts of 1898

Go read it.

Despite their importance, the events in Wilmington have remained largely a hidden chapter in our state's history. It was only this year that North Carolina completed its official investigation of the violence. The report of the Wilmington Race Riot Commission concluded that the tragedy "marked a new epoch in the history of violent race relations in the United States." It recommended payments to descendants of victims and advised media outlets, including The News & Observer, to tell the truth about 1898.

Even as we finally acknowledge the ghosts of 1898, long shadowed by ignorance and forgetfulness, some ask: Why dredge this up now, when we cannot change the past? But those who favor amnesia ignore how the past holds our future in its grip, especially when it remains unacknowledged. The new world walks forever in the footsteps of the old. The story of the Wilmington race riot abides at the core of North Carolina's past.

And that story holds many lessons for us today. It reminds us that history does not just happen. It does not unfold naturally like the seasons or rise and fall like the tides. History is made by people, who bend and shape the present to create the future. The history of Wilmington teaches us that the ugly racial conflict that shaped North Carolina and the nation during much of the 20th century was not inevitable. So long as we remember that past, we might overcome its legacy.

1 Comments:

  • Even as we finally acknowledge the ghosts of 1898, long shadowed by ignorance and forgetfulness, some ask: Why dredge this up now, when we cannot change the past?

    In a state where people still fly the Confederate flag, it is even more important to recall the racist legacy of the Confederacy.

    By Anonymous cd, at 10:33 AM  

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