“The Vampire That Hovers Over North Carolina”: Gender, White Supremacy, and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898

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“The Vampire That Hovers Over North Carolina”: Gender, White Supremacy, and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898

by Andrea Meryl Kirshenbaum
Southern Cultures, Vol. 4, No. 3: Fall 1998

"A provocative look at the manipulation of racial and sexual fears, culminating in a bloody riot a century ago."

On 10 November 1898 hundreds of white men took to the streets of Wilmington, North Carolina, to retake the city from the clutches of “negro domination.” The rioters began their day of death and destruction by reducing the offices of the local black newspaper to rubble. They then headed into the predominantly black section of the city, where shooting ensued. Most African Americans were defenseless against the onslaught of white violence, destruction, and murder. Estimates vary widely, but by the end of the day, anywhere from 14 to 250 people, most of them black, were dead, and many prominent Republicans, Populists, and African Americans were banished or had fled the city in fear.

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