top of page

Why is Wilmington’s Lie relevant 122 years later? (by Pete Kelly)

Equitable Communities CLT was founded last year a the successful community Book Read of the ‘Color of Law’ by Richard Rothstein. We believed then and still do today that understanding our factual history – not what we were taught is critical to developing enduring actions that reverse the historical trends of wealth and income discrimination. Understanding the past often identifies how the same goals that created our segregated society are still at work today. The methods may have evolved, the words may have changed but the underlying negative outcomes are still being achieved. Without discerning the repeating patterns, we risk getting the same results.

Wilmington’s Lie by David Zucchino reveals the “true” history of the 1898 events in Wilmington NC. He describes the key individuals from both sides that illustrate how the abstract goals affect individual lives. The facts document the outcome of the murder of over 60 Black residents of Wilmington and the overthrow (coup) of an elected local primarily Black government. Today, while our society may have evolved to not allow these overt actions to be repeated, the underlying goal of maintaining Economic Power by the few at the expense of the many is still at work today.

Zucchino documents the overt planning with detail implementation strategies that led to the chilling events. He aligns the goals of regaining white power with the extreme tactics including manipulation of the press and discussion of facts to stir emotions that led to the events in 1898. In addition, the limitations of the Black’s second amendment rights left them incapable of effectively defending themselves. Finally, he illuminates the lingering impact of those tactics and methods on Wilmington, NC and the country.

Unfortunately, we find some of the tactics being utilized today to maintain control of Economic Power with goals of limiting the economic growth and development of minorities in society. The words that describe the actions sometimes have changed but the goals and tactics have not. You might recognize similar goals and tactics that include undermining trust in government institutions, minority intimidation, manipulation of the facts, limiting voting rights, and limiting access to education and jobs.

The Color of Law highlighted the systemic construct combining racial prejudice and legal, governmental, economic, and social power as a tactic to advance White advantage. Rothstein documents the various approaches to impact Criminal Justice, Voting Rights, Employment, Education and Home Ownership to maintain white power. The Color of Law illustrates how the methods of implementation continuously evolved to circumvent the most recent legal limitations imposed.

We at Equitable Communities CLT strive to illuminate the lessons from better understanding our history, understanding the facts of today’s reality with detail data and then promote pragmatic solutions and actions to make measurable progress.

Our partner, QCityMetro is sponsoring a facilitated discussion on February 20th with David Zucchino author of Wilmington’s LIE ‘The Roots of Voter Suppression’ followed by a Media Panel to discus the impact of media today. The event will be held at First Baptist Church West. For more details please see our website

61 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

After Monday night’s City Council Meeting, we are still very concerned regarding the proposed 2040 Comprehensive Plan (PLAN). We believe that the current process is destined to ‘approve’ a version of

The City Council met last week to discuss possible changes to the draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan. There has been much dialogue and debate in the community regarding several key issues. The conversation

bottom of page