Wilmington on Fire is a recent feature-length documentary that chronicles The Wilmington Massacre of 1898. The Wilmington Massacre of 1898 was a bloody attack on the African-American community by a heavily armed white mob with the support of the North Carolina Democratic Party on November 10, 1898 in the port city of Wilmington, North Carolina. It is considered one of the only successful examples of a violent overthrow of an existing government and left countless numbers of African-Americans dead and exiled from the city. This event was the spring board for the White Supremacy movement and Jim Crow segregation throughout the state of North Carolina and the American South. This incident has been barely mentioned and has been omitted from most history books. It was not until 2006, after the North Carolina General Assembly published a report on it, that the tragedy became known to the general public.
Director/Producer: Christopher Everett
Producer: Blackhouse Publishing
Executive Producer: Pete Chatmon
Associate Producer: Tariq Nasheed
“In Wilmington they nicknamed me Mr.1898 because it’s all I talk about.”
Speaker (Mr.1898): “I’ve been approached by several people who wanted to do a film, but I told Chris that I would help him if it dealt from the African American perspective…Thomas C. Miller…had risen from slavery [became a pawn broker for black and white people]. From 1865 to 1898 these people [African American residents of Wilmington] had made tremendous progress…Can you imagine being a poor white man and seeing these Negroes attain the positions they attained? That had to be a shock. I know it would’ve been a shock to me…1865 to 1898, that is what, 30 years?”
Audience Member: …making people pay for bails, basically expropriating poor people, white people, indiscriminately, and it’s under a disguise. It’s disproportionately applied to minorities. And the public thinks, ‘oh this is just the law, it applies equally to everybody,’ but it’s not enforced equally against everybody. It’s only enforced against certain communities throughout the entire country and that came out after the Ferguson investigations. After those shootings the federal government justice department said they’re using court fines, penalties, and fines to expropriate people and that’s going on in this town and every single town in this state and throughout the country, but I just don’t see the traction catching with the public to get upset about it and it just continues to go on and on.
Speaker (Mr.1898): Wilmington has a chronic case of what you’re talking about and it’s also good to know. After the massacre of 1898 Wilmington was known as the capital of the White Supremacist movement because it was a prototype. All the other ones followed it. Incidentally, the south Africans took notes on these people of 1898…asking ‘Well, what do you do? How do you keep these people in their place?’ And the basic answer is to terrorize them.
Photography & Post by Kristen M. Bryant