"Wilmington's Lie" wins Pulitzer prize for non-fiction

A story that should have been told a long time ago:

This brutal insurrection is a rare instance of a violent overthrow of an elected government in the U.S. It halted gains made by blacks and restored racism as official government policy, cementing white rule for another half century. It was not a “race riot,” as the events of November 1898 came to be known, but rather a racially motivated rebellion launched by white supremacists.

In Wilmington’s Lie, Pulitzer Prize winner David Zucchino uses contemporary newspaper accounts, diaries, letters and official communications to create a gripping and compelling narrative that weaves together individual stories of hate and fear and brutality. This is a dramatic and definitive account of a remarkable but forgotten chapter of American history.

In order to "forget" something you would have to have known it, and I'm not sure this qualifies. I attended public school in NC, then community college, then became a history major at a fairly reputable private University (Campbell), and the first I heard of this was about 12 years ago. This isn't David Zucchino's first Pulitzer; he was instrumental in exposing Apartheid to the world:

David Zucchino is a contributing writer for The New York Times. He has covered wars and civil conflicts in more than two dozen countries. Zucchino was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his dispatches from apartheid South Africa and is a four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist for his reporting from Iraq, Lebanon, Africa and inner-city Philadelphia. He is the author of Thunder Run and Myth of the Welfare Queen.

Here's Zucchino on NPR. Pay close attention, especially those who are still sittting on the fence about Josephus Daniels:

It started in the spring, when the publisher of The News & Observer, which was the most powerful and influential paper in North Carolina, met with the head of the Democratic Party, a man named Furnifold Simmons. And they came up with a plan to overthrow the government in Wilmington, which was the largest and most important city. But they had a larger goal in mind, and that was to deprive the blacks of the vote and deprive them of the ability to serve in elected or appointed office ever again. And this plan was hatched over a period of several months during the spring, summer and fall of 1898, leading up to the elections in November.

And the way they did this was to set up sort of a military formation in Wilmington, where they had block captains and block lieutenants assigned. They brought in weapons from as far away as Richmond and Baltimore. Whites armed themselves with shotguns and Winchesters. They did not allow blacks, on the other hand, to buy any weapons. The merchants of the city bought a new rapid-fire Colt machine gun for the state militia.

And this was a very important point that people don't realize, that the white leadership had control of two state militias, the Wilmington Light Infantry and the city's naval reserves. These were both state militias that purportedly answered to the governor in Raleigh. They were basically the National Guard of the day. But they were made up of white supremacists, and they were controlled by the white supremacist leadership. And at the same time, the city's merchants would buy guns for poor whites who couldn't afford the guns. So the city was incredibly well-armed and prepared for the day when the leadership had set aside after the election to overthrow the government.

This book should be required reading in NC's social studies classes (and not just in the Wilmington area), but that won't happen with Republicans in charge. Which is all the proof you need that the two parties have flipped since this took place.

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