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tv   Cape Fear Rising  CSPAN  March 19, 2017 10:48am-11:10am EDT

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the civil war, they hear about fort fisher and understandably's the side of one of the two largest naval bombardments in the war and one of the largest and busiest operations in world war ii. >> we had this great looking fort that is very very important quest we are here on the riverwalk in historic buildings in north carolina as we continue our look into the cities nonfiction literary culture, we will hear one author study about 1898 political to by racial tensions here. >>. >> standing here in front of the 1898 memorial which was put up on the hundredth anniversary of the events that occurred in wilmington in 1898, it was a long time coming, controversial because there were many citizens black-and-white who wanted to forget the whole thing and you know, the black community brought it up to much, but it might bring further repercussions and i was
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always here that in the white community took there's a sort of a no pun intended, but whitewashing the past. they thought it was always going to be, i think one radio posted you can't put that behind you if you'll put in front of you first. >> in 1898, wilmington chief a status, you have to understand this was a huge place holding area for the civil war because of the river which was back there a lot of block away. >> all the plantations in north carolina on the river so the roanoke , poughkeepsie river, huge concentration of 330,000 slaves in north carolina in 1860 were here in the river valley so there was always a fear of an uprising, a fear of terrible nightmare if you will of the land of the white century and had very repressive laws and both free blacks and slaves, all in this. and well sherman came in from the north and south, he had liberated 25,000 enslaved blacks, he got to the head of
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navigation to the cape fear river in fayetteville and you put all those people on flagpoles and brought them to wilmington where they were then jumped to the freedmen's bureau. a great many of them stayed here and so 1898 wilmington was one of the largest cities in north carolina and of the 17,000 or so citizens, two thirds of them were black so they had achieved him an amazing thing in a little more than a generation after being slaves and coming out of bondage not even owning the close on their back. they had to seek the status of the middle class, they had achieved political leadership and power, social standing and they had wealth and large breed. they got their education was a great place to come to work, african-americans were skilled artisans , they were skilled artisans in the cotton mills, and so it was a great place and there was a
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thriving black middle class. they had taken political power from the old democrat and remember in those days democrats and republicans were reversed so in 1898, the state democratic party decided it was going to take back the state and their systems from what they thought of as negro domination. there kind of way of putting it. >> and they wanted to take back all the electoral offices becoming in 1898 which inuded aot of the state offices, those that were won by john but didn't include any so-called boards of aldermen or the mayor but what they did was, they basically sold the election to intimidation, literally got shotguns at polling booth, people stealing ballot boxes and leading up to that, they had a war of words. the war of words is an interesting term, there were all kinds of anti-black places all over the state, the famous war of which was
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alfred bell which was considered internal and so it was another piece of writing and newspaper editing in alexander manually. alexander manley published a newspaper he billed as the first afro american daily newspaper in the country called the daily record. and it was a newspaper for a community within a community, written largely by the black community and controlled by the white community. in an editorial in august 1898 he was responding to a speech given by rebecca felton who was the white congressman who ended up going to congress later herself in georgia in which he said the greatest changes to white farmland in the south was being raped by black men and if it took living in the south out of them, then so be it. she was all inavor and when he responded, the news had always had a little bit of doubt into whether manley ote the editorial but in the editorial he said the's a mrs. felton from georgia
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who makes a speech before the agricultural society in georgia in which she advocates winching as an extreme measure. this woman makes a plea for womanhood and the crimes of rape as times reported, her plea would be worthy of consideration but he goes on to say, we suggest whites guard their women moreclosely . thus giving no opportunity for the human fiend, be white or black , do not live your goods out of doors for white men are careless in the matter of protecting their women, especially in farms. he says sometimes white women are attracted to black men and it's unclear whether this was men or maybe this was a satire or if you wrote it himself but you can imagine the reception is got in the white community. although there are too curious things about it, one of them being the thing that he was responding to that happened i think as much a year earlier.
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why is that moment he chose to respond? also, nobody in the white community read that paper. someone did, then they reprinted the editorial in the front page of the wilmington newspaper. every day until the election, between august and november so there began to be calls for family to remove from the city, for the paper to be shut down and so forth and couple this with a couple other events, white government unions were making the rounds and these were bacally cadres of people that would come into a community and make the case that you should fire your black workers and give those jobs to the whites in a people take a pledge to that effect so you are starting to see the employment picture shift a little bit. the third piece of that was a thing called the white man's declaration of independence. this wassigned by more than 400 of the leading white citizens of wilmington , just a little while before the election. believing that the constitution of the united
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states contemplated the government to be carried on by an enlightened people, believing that its framers did not anticipate the enfranchisement of ignorant population of african origin and believing those men of the state of north carolina who joined in forming the union did not sacrifice for their descendents subjection to an inferior race. filling the solid the place where the night before election day, colonel modell stood on the stage and gave what was later described as a sibling speech and he said if you see the negro out voting, tell him to go home. he if you won't go home, shoot him in his tracks so there was nothing subtle about this and the place erupted in furious applause. that was the tone that was set for election day for the following morning. you can see there was nothing subtle about this, there was nothing that was in line in the sense of the power grab going on. furthermore, they had already made arrangements in
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washington with the canadian ministration that no federal group would come to the aid of wilmington, that they would leave them to settle their own things their own waso they went in knowing that it was no federal intervention. around the table on election day, white supremacists elected across the board but they still didn't have support of their mayor. so what happens on november 10? they assess an ultimatum to a committee of colored citizens were pretty much chosen at random and held the demands that were in the white declaration. and the black community, leaders of the black community met and decided to give them what they want, they threw manley out, there were going to shut down the paper and do the other things that the crime never reached waddell and his cohorts because the man who was supposed to deliver it, mailed it instead. he was too afraid to going to that part of the community so
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on november 10 about 8:00 or so, a crowd of up to 1000 armed white men gathered in wilmington in the armory on market street. they marched up following waddell, turned on seventh street and then sort of rampaged on down to the daily record which was a church hall called freelove hall. when they got there, they surrounded it, bashing the door, shot one man who has remained a unidentified who ran the back wounded and then neighbor down the newspaper. so in so doing, they not only stop manley, he wasn't at the newspaper that point, he fled the city but they not only shut down the newspaper but bird the entire archive of the black community, all those records. it was very hard to find even a single copy of the daily record,there were three or four that i know of but there's afamous picture of all these white men and their sons , i suppose standing in front of this burned-out hold of the daily record office . they had kept the black fire brigade from fighting the
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fire so that it burned to the ground and only when it looked as if the church like catch fire, did they allow the firemen to fight the blaze. >> they went home and bob's and they get over to bladen street and there's some black working men who come to find out what's going on because there's commotion, they're selling boats and things and at that point gunfire corrupted and what we know couple things, one is that all the dead were black. you know that the rampage lasted about two days, that it's an orchestrated plan where many months before this, the outbreak on blade street was probably spontaneous but the white community under waddell and several other leaders started stockpiling rifles, he even had a machine gun, probably gatling gun of the type used in 1898 war and all of a sudden, all these militia groups were coming from elsewhere, within goldsboro so it would take a couple hours to reach it and they
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all showed upimmediately. you have been the wilmington light infantry which was culinary organization, recently demobilized . but they had all their high-powered rifles, the wilmington naval reserve and they had a small howitzer, canon and these people shut down wilmington their martial law. they were strip searching men and women, and women on every corner. there were a number of black letter carriers who were beaten nearly to death by white mobs and some white women came to their rescue and got the hooligans often and gave them phones. there were a number of white women shelter their black servicemembers and their homes in order to keep them safe. but this was catastrophic for wilmington in so many ways. a lot of these people that were being harassed and shot at, they fled the city, swim the river, went out the creek and to the cemeteries. theyent to ground basically and in three days wilmington was shut down. you can pretty much mark the end of wilmington's ascendancy as a city in north
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carolina to the date of this to and it has been called the right really was acute because the next thing they did was round up the alderman and at gunpoint at city hall made them all resign and white supremacist down the line and waddell, the leader of the violence becomes mayor and becomes a multi-sitter mayor. when he dies, there's a huge funeral procession and he is utilized dies as a finefigure . >> no legal action is ever taken to any of these guys. george brown tree, later judge rountree went to the state and he concocted a piece of legislation, popularly called the grandfather clause. this piece of legislation basically took voting rights away from blacks until 1965. not just in north carolina but through the south. >> all below the mason-dixon. so this huge national repercussion. he had a huge repercussion here locally.
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for the economy of the city and of course it took the african-american community about 1000 people we knew were driven out of their county and included on the train at that point, the so-called spanish from wilmington, these were local leaders, lawyers, preachers, funeral directors, local politicians. they were the people who to this point had been african-american alderman, the firemen, the police and sheriff deputies. and wilmington went back to being ruled by this category of white supremacists and a number of white families. >>
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you have a situation where the intelligence and the leadership of the black community is basically wiped out for a generation, and from there wille looking at something now more than 100 years later, and people asking the questions, what can we do to change that? you've got come in wilmington now behind every decision about rezoning or redistricting school or neighborhood schools are whether or not we should have at-large voting for city council district voting, all of that have a legacy directly tied to 1898 because we are the future of that history. i always think of that event as a being like the tunnels that
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ruunder wilmingt from about seven street on down to the river. there are these all drainage tunnels that you to come up all of the five houses and judges all the way down the river. they were probably also used for other things. they are kind of a secret underneath of the traffic on the street of wilmington. i always think of that as being the little secret that runs underneath the city. and until this memorial really was not acknowledged, it really was something that was whispered about it was whispered about usually i inversions that were r less than accurate. we don't know how many people died. i think they say ten on the monument because that's the number of corners juries, a black preacher who hid in a covert down here by fourth street put the number over 400. one of the legends that grew up based on eyewitness testimony at the time was that wagon loads of bodies were dumped into the cape fear river and said that it's become the iconic image of this
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violence as far as the black community, those bodies being dumped into the river. it's hard to know because there was an investigation, nobody looking into this, nobody counting or interviewing witnesses. it's all speculation at this point. my guess is it was probably way more than ten people, not 400. it really, really rocked the core of this community, black and white i come from chicago, a very diverse city. i can be at a aled everywhere i went i was either with all white people or all ack people to church all white, certain theater production all black. i thought what is going on? as i begin to get a learned this and realize nobody had written about this. the most famous one was charles chestnut. i was really interested in the motivation of these guys. you're talking about people who are family men, good fathers and husbands, people who were
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deacons in the churches. in one case a pastor of a church. i was trying to imagine my way into their imagination, their mindset. the practical question was, there were 70 or 80 people who figured into the narrative and i could not get my hands around that. i ended up taking representatives of each of these facets of the things, the planners, the victims come so forth. and using those to tell the story. i was as scrupulous as i could be by putting the event on paper. they were public. in the novel he read about someone being shot at a certain intersection or you read about a certain speech being made, that happened. what i took liberties wasn't creating a couple of composite characters and viewpoint characters that could move back and forth into the secret councils because these guys did not leave minutes of the meetings. what i had to do is i knew they went in, i knew what happened when they came out. i was very much interested in imagining my way into the
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morality into the way of thinking and trying to pull some truth abt the human character behaved while remaining true to the historical basis of the events. that's why wrote "cape fear rising" as a novel. interesting enough many people had the reaction that you just made the whole thing up, that never happened. i can't tell you how many radio interviews i would did and someone would say that yankee makes all that up. that never happened. and i've had conversations with hundreds over the years is that i grew up in the county and we studied history. we learned about the civil war. wizard at fort fisher. we never heard anything about this. prior to the novel i met with all, have been asked to meet with all the university officials who were concerned that something would happen. they share of at that point, an african-american sheriff, and the local police chief got together with our chance of
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on-campus and talked about what might happen in the black community, the white committee when the book came out. in the end nothing like that did happen. what happened worst sorts of lots of anonymous phone calls to me, letters to the editor, that kind is, speaking engagements that went away. i knew there was a least a couple of boards on certain, i know that there were a couple of boards .net that are related to various places in wilmington and tried to figure out whether they could see me for this. but everybody in the book at that point was decsed anso the was nothing there. i just learned last year because about this book as a nontenured professor, i just learned last year from a former chancellor that, in fact, the board of trustees is going to deny me tenure based on this book. there were a number of defendants at that point and internet it was all in keening, one of his descendents, he apparently stood up for the integrity of the university and
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the system and said you cannot do that. and so i was saved and i never knew this for all those years. all that is to say that this event, while it seemed like agent entry being well over 100 years now, in the past isn't. it really resonates almost as though it happened yesterday for many people in the community. we have recognized this that it is now fully in the sunlight and not singling this out at some defining thing that says that that's all the black community is about, they were just victims. they were only victims because of their own success, and doing one of the remarkable translations are many people that i know of in history coming from slavery into a burgeoning, prosperous middle class with political leadership and so forth. what i would like to do is, and it's been a slow road back. what i would like to see wilmington do and the people, is to encourage the process by which we get back to the position of having that robust leadership in all the communities working together
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towards a common good. >> we were on the campus of unc wilmington we are currently holding that editorial meeting. when the class is over the director will speak with us about the publishing class and creative writing department. >> somebody suggested this, the idea that nonfiction pieces have a little synopsis. what if we borrowed that for the anthology? speed and even to the rolls from one page to the next page we would see a little snippet about each of those in their esss. >> you can pick it up and flip to something. >> absolutely. >> speaking today we were in the lookout practicum which is one of our graduate courses. they are part of the staff, so


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