Legislative effort to acknowledge 1898 race riot heads for oblivion

Legislative effort to acknowledge 1898 race riot heads for oblivion

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Kristin Collins, Staff Writer It took more than 100 years to bring the race riot of 1898 into the light. Now, the past seems, once again, to be fading.

A package of laws intended to correct the century-old damage, caused by a white supremacist plot to drive blacks from power in Wilmington, has been all but ignored. And the movement’s legislative champion, Rep. Thomas Wright, is embroiled in scandal.

"We agonized over this whole process," said Kenny Davis, a member of a commission that spent six years studying the riot. "We came up with recommendations that would improve the quality of life, not only for African Americans, but for everybody in the community. And now they’re not being pursued."

Wright, an eight-term legislator from Wilmington, filed 10 bills on the issue when the legislative session started. All but one have failed even to come up for discussion. The remaining bill — a simple acknowledgment that the incident occurred — passed the House but faces uncertainty in the Senate.

Some commission members, who worked to uncover what had been one of the state’s least-known and darkest episodes, say they are concerned that Wright is no longer effective and that their work may not result in the change they had hoped for. (more…)