America Hasn’t Reckoned with the Coup That Blasted the Black Middle Class

Yves here. This is a fascinating, if also deeply disturbing account of how a prosperous black community was attacked after North Carolina blacks also were starting to get political power by teaming up with white populists and Republicans. And you’ll see that “coup” is indeed the correct description.

The fact that the Wilmington coup was a durable success and no perp was held to account was proof that the white backlash against rising blacks would go unchecked.

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

If you were a Black person in America in the 1890s, you wanted to live in Brooklyn.

Not Brooklyn, New York. No, you wanted to be in the bustling Brooklyn district of Wilmington, North Carolina. At that time, 25,000 people lived in the thronging Cape Fear River port, the state’s largest city. More than half of them were Black. In Brooklyn, you could meet Black seamstresses, stevedores, cobblers, restauranteurs, shop owners, artisans, midwives, merchants, doctors, lawyers, bankers, and police officers. The federal customs agent was Black. So was the county treasurer. And even the town jailor.

Wilmington was the most racially progressive city in the South. It was America’s future.

But very soon, it would be awash in blood — transformed into the country’s traumatic past. This repressed and unresolved trauma haunts the present in a thousand ways, most recently in the shocking siege on the U.S. capitol. It continues to damage us all.

Here is the story of what happened, and why we need to talk about it.

Black American Dreams

By the 1890s, Wilmington’s upwardly mobile Black community had been blossoming for decades, its seeds planted during slavery. In the antebellum period, enslaved Blacks in urban homes and plantations were often highly skilled. They moved about more freely than their rural counterparts, mingling with the townspeople. Some could even read and write.

Black people were the lifeblood of Wilmington. Black sailors and navigators made the city’s prosperous trade hum along, and the railroads and other businesses relied on enslaved and free Black workers. The city’s stunning architecture was the handiwork of Black masons, builders, and carpenters. Landmark structures like the Classical Revival Bellamy Mansion, which still stands today, were built by enslaved and free Black artisans. According to David Zucchino, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of Wilmington’s Lie,an essential account of the events of 1898, the city had nearly 600 free Blacks, artisans and tradesmen, before the Civil War.

After the war, Blacks poured into the city seeking work and security. By 1880, they made up 60% of the population – the most of any sizeable southern city. (Atlanta, by comparison, was only 40% Black). By the 1890s, a Black person could find opportunity at every rung of society. Many reached the middle class, and a few accumulated significant wealth. Cultural life was blooming. You could see Black people joyfully celebrating the Emancipation Act every year and putting on masked parades on the traditional Jonkonnu holiday.

White and Black people often lived and worked peacefully side by side in Wilmington. Most astonishing of all, some even began to vote together.

A Coalition Like No Other

After the Civil War, the position of Black people in North Carolina rose and fell. Some achieved prominence, like state senator Abraham Galloway, who refused to step aside for white men on the streets of Wilmington and openly carried a pistol.

But it wasn’t long before the white Conservative Party began to recover lost ground, especially after Reconstruction. In the 1870s, these whites began a program of “Southern Redemption” to expand power by keeping Blacks out of politics. There was a problem, though: Democrats, as the Conservatives came to be known, had earned the wrath of white small farmers pummeled by economic recessions. Some ditched the Democrats for the new Populist Party.

In 1892, a new crop of progressive Democrats, like young Raleigh newspaperman Josephus Daniels, challenged the elite planters and wealthy industrialists in their party so resented by the Populists. But white farmers and laborers were still too disgusted with Democrats’ support of railroads, banks, and other powerful interests to come back into the fold.

The Democrats’ worst nightmare came in 1894 when North Carolina witnessed something seen nowhere else in the South. A new party, the Fusionists, forged a coalition of Republicans, Blacks, and white Populists to beat a common foe – the Democrats. In most of the country, Populists tended to ally with Democrats, but not so in North Carolina.

It wasn’t that white Populists had much love for Black people. Most didn’t. But they disliked another group even more: the fatcat railroad barons, bankers, lawyers, and manufacturing kingpins getting fatter at their expense. The white working class was fed up and did the unthinkable, teaming up with Blacks and Republicans to support the same candidates.

North Carolina’s Fusionists routed the Democrats in the elections of 1894, taking control of the state senate, the house, and the courts. The new Fusionist legislature pushed through reforms that expanded registration, voting, and local governing opportunities for Blacks. Members even voted to honor the recently-deceased Frederick Douglass — creating such a stink among conservative whites that the government quickly erected a Confederate monument in front of the state capitol in Raleigh – recently removed in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

For Blacks, the future was looking bright. In 1896, North Carolina attorney George Henry White became the only Black in the U.S. Congress at the time. Blacks boasted 300 magistracies across the state, and they were becoming a powerful political force on the coastal plains where most lived, holding 1,000 offices altogether. In the 1896 local election in Wilmington, a whopping 87 percent of eligible male black voters turned out, giving America one of its first mixed-race municipal governments.

That’s when whites began to get really nervous.

“A Bomb Getting Ready to Explode”

Progressive Democrat Josephus Daniels was an ambitious young entrepreneur, not unlike the Silicon Valley upstarts of our time. Along with William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, he shaped the modern newspaper, figuring out how to use the media to pull the strings of politics. Some wondered why he didn’t run for office. The answer is that he didn’t have to. By his early thirties, Daniels had the reins of the most influential media platform in the state, Raleigh’s News and Observer. He was hellbent on using it to defeat the Fusionists.

As biographer Lee Craig outlines, progressivism for Daniels meant railroad regulation, agricultural reform, and prohibition. In theory, he was sympathetic to the plight of working class whites and used his paper to criticize the railroads and J.B. Duke’s American Tobacco trust. But he also knew the Democrats weren’t really going to quit making rich white men even richer. And he knew the Fusionist alliance was shaky, particularly on race. The newspaperman saw that the poorest whites were the most likely to begrudge Black economic progress. So Daniels decided that progress would mean sacrificing Black people. It meant white supremacy.

In 1898, Democrats across the state agreed to run on racism for the upcoming elections. Daniels supplied the propaganda for the white supremacy campaign, while his cohort, political organizer Furnifold Simmons, spewed racism on the stump.

Stoking resentment of Black prosperity wasn’t difficult. Edward A. Johnson, a Black alderman of Raleigh, reported that “Negroes in Wilmington had pianos, servants, expensive carpets, lace curtains at windows” and that “White Supremacy orators of that city constantly asked from the platform, ‘How many of you white men can afford to have pianos and servants?’”

Wilmington community activist Hollis Briggs, Jr. recently put it like this: “African Americans actually controlled the commerce and when you’ve got a race of people that control commerce and that were well off…then you’ve got a whole other group of people that were upset by this economic boom for African Americans. What you had was a bomb getting ready to explode.”

On top of this, the Democrats added themes of domination and sex. White people had to be riled up over the threat of “Negro rule.” Daniels went all out, giving North Carolina a master class in the dark arts of disinformation. His reporters dug up racist dirt. They picked up tall tales about Blacks in taverns, ran them as news. Every day, the News and Observer dished up false reports and flagrantly racist editorials. North Carolina will soon become a Black republic. Black people are buying guns to kill you. Hip to the power of images, Daniels printed grotesque cartoons that demonized Blacks— literally. A famous one shows a Black man as a hideous vampire bat terrorizing white people.

But all that still wasn’t enough. Whites must be scared by something even more farfetched — the bugaboo of the “black beast rapist.” Daniels sought to play on the white working class sense of aggrievement and emasculation in a way that would make them forget their hatred of fatcats – at least temporarily. He hit upon the lie that did the trick: Black men are coming to rape your women.

In the summer of 1898, Daniels received a gift in the form of an editorial written by Alex Manly, the mixed-race editor of the Daily Record, the paper of the Wilmington’s striving Black middle class. Manly had responded to a call for the lynching of Black men accused of raping white women by puncturing the biggest taboo in the South. He pointed out that white women were sometimes quite willing to have sex with Black men, just as white men were quite willing to have sex with Black women. Manly’s editorial was reprinted in newspapers across the state, along with feverish claims that the editor had besmirched the virtue of white women.

White people went berserk.

A Coup, not a “Riot”

In late October 1898, white supremacists in Wilmington got the perfect leader for their repulsive campaign. Alfred Moore Waddell was a former congressman – and a lawyer who defended lynchers, as Zucchino indicates. His specialty was giving rabble-rousing speeches to foment racism.

Waddell and his fellow white supremacists Democrats hatched a plan for the city. They would rig the outcome of the 1898 elections by intimidating Black voters, peeling off Populists, stuffing ballot boxes, and whatever else it took. But that wouldn’t suffice, because there weren’t many local elections in Wilmington that year. After November 8, many Blacks, Fusionists, and Republicans would still be in office. Waddell & Co. didn’t plan on waiting until the next election to get rid of them.

The solution was to execute an insurrection. The top men of the white supremacist campaign secretly agreed that after the election, they would overthrow Wilmington’s bi-racial government and install white officials in their place.

In the lead-up to November, the campaigners didn’t just hint that violence was coming if the elections didn’t go their way. They came right out and said it: Wadell stated, “We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”

What they didn’t say is that violence was coming even after the election went their way.

As Zucchino details, white supremacists were more than ready for bloodshed. They had two militias, the Light Infantry and the Naval Reserves, consisting of soldiers just returned from the Spanish-American War and itching for a fight. Instead of answering to the white Republican governor as they were supposed to, they reported to the white supremacists. The Democrats also had a paramilitary group known as the “Red Shirts” that terrorized Black communities.

As the election approached, Wilmington looked to be preparing for a siege. Whites stockpiled every possible weapon, including a Colt rapid-fire machine gun for the Infantry, the deadliest weapon of the day. Meanwhile, Blacks were denied the purchase of guns and powder, even by sellers outside the state.

Black congressman George H. White pressed President McKinley to prevent the coming bloodbath, but no help came. The Republican Governor Daniel Russell was in fear for his own life, and would do nothing to stop it.

On election day, things went just as the Democrats planned. Through fraud and intimidation, they “won” across the state. Some thought that violence in Wilmington had been avoided, but they thought wrong.

Two days later on November 10, all hell broke loose. But not in the sense of a spontaneous “riot,” as newspapers across the country described it, and many history books still do. No, this violence was long in the planning. Wilmington’s white supremacists used the pretext of a false threat of a violent uprising among the Black population to unleash a mob of 1,500 whites, led by the Light Infantry militia, to wreak havoc. Armed to the teeth, the mob headed to the Daily Record, hoping to lynch Alex Manly. He had already fled, so they burned the building. The mob swarmed on the Black neighborhoods, targeting Brooklyn in particular, murdering untold numbers and chasing hundreds out of town as they went.

By day’s end, Black bodies were strewn across the streets and gutters. Zucchino puts the number of fatalities at 60; some think it was even higher. The more prominent Blacks were put on trains out of town at gunpoint, ordered never to return. The poorer ones fled to swamps and cemeteries outside the city, where they froze and starved for weeks.

Some professional Blacks and white Fusionist politicians hoped to wait out the violence. They calculated wrong. The coup leaders banished everyone they didn’t want around, and some of the banished didn’t make it out alive. Zucchino reports that one popular Black barber was put on a train and found dead hours later, shot by a Red Shirt. A white Fusionist on the banishment list found himself hanging from a rope, only surviving by squeaking out the Masonic distress cry. He was saved by a fellow mason in the mob.

As the insurrection unfolded according to plan, Waddell named himself mayor and put white supremacists in the place of duly elected officials, including aldermen, 100 police officers, the city clerk, the treasurer, the city attorney, and anyone “whose affiliation with the Fusion-negro regime made them obnoxious to the people and the present administration.”

For the once-prosperous Blacks of Wilmington, whose only crime was success, the future suddenly grew dim. Zucchino writes that “the city’s black middle class, built and nurtured for decades, was collapsing. Hundreds of black families were homeless. Those who remained were by now thoroughly intimidated, accepting of white authority, and thus welcomed by whites to remain in Wilmington.”

The poor Blacks hiding in the swamps and cemeteries were eventually lured back because the whites in Wilmington couldn’t manage without their cheap labor. Plus, white supremacists dearly loved having Black servants.

A turning Point in America

Wilmington’s Black community was thoroughly devastated by the coup. By the 1900 census, the city was majority white. Blacks continued to flee as the years passed. Today, the Black population stands at less than 19%.

After 1898, no Black citizen held public office there again until 1972.

The Wilmington coup stands as the only successful and lasting armed overthrow of a legitimate municipal government in American history on U.S soil. It was a horrific turning point for the country, marking the beginning of Jim Crow and poisoning race relations to the present day. Not only was it a stain upon North Carolina, but on the federal government, too, which knowingly abandoned Black people to death and destruction.

Yet if you ask most Americans, they know little about it.

This is partly due to the barrage of fake news about events circulated in the media at the time around the country, from Raleigh to Philadelphia to New York City. To help correct the record, in 2000, North Carolina’s General Assembly established the 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission to investigate. The commission released its report in 2005.

One of the commission’s goals was to study the economic impact on Black people in Wilmington and the state. The report cited such problems as capital losses, less funding for education and thus lower literacy rates for Blacks, and broken support networks. Duke University economist William Darity, a member of the commission, discussed the economic catastrophe in the documentary film, “Wilmington on Fire,” He describes a blow that resulted in a significant decrease in the overall status of Black jobs in Wilmington and a steep decline in overall economic prospects. Going forward, the city had more Black service workers, fewer artisans and entrepreneurs. Middle-class dreams were shattered.

Commission member Harper Peterson said, “Essentially, it crippled a segment of our population that hasn’t recovered in 107 years.”

Today, Black Americans still suffer from economic despair and exclusion from the American dream. They still face brutality from authorities, attacks on their civic rights, twice the unemployment rate of whites, and a pervasive, structural wealth gap born in part of events like the coup and their aftermath.

Woodrow Wilson and FDR

Nobody was ever prosecuted for the Wilmington insurrection. White supremacists didn’t just get away with murder and treason in 1898. They were richly rewarded for it, in the South and beyond — none more so than Josephus Daniels.

Biographer Lee Craig notes that Daniels remained unrepentant about the white supremacy campaign even half a century after the fact. But that didn’t seem to bother the U.S. presidents who relied on his good counsel.

One fan was Woodrow Wilson, whose family moved to Wilmington when he was a teen. There, Woodrow enjoyed hanging out with the scions of planter elites, and as president, he remembered his North Carolina friends, saving the best for Josephus Daniels.

President Wilson made one of the key architects of southern apartheid his Secretary of the Navy. Daniels became, as Craig observes, “one of the few men Wilson held in high regard and consulted throughout his eight years in the White House.” The unapologetic white supremacist created the war machine that helped win World War I and oversaw the aggressive expansion of U.S. military power in Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

That’s not all. The man known as the father of Jim Crow launched the career of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served under him as assistant secretary of the navy. When FDR became president, he still fondly referred to Daniels as “Chief, and awarded the treasonous criminal with an appointment as his Ambassador to Mexico, a key position. President Roosevelt described Daniels appreciatively as “a man who taught me a lot that I needed to know.”

In 2021, when a mostly white mob stormed the capitol in Washington, some wielding Confederate flags, a few astute observers understood the evil echo of what had happened over a century before. Academics Kathy Roberts Forde and Kristin Gustafson summed up the parallels of the Wilmington coup and the capitol siege: “Each was organized and planned. Each was an effort to steal an election and disfranchise voters. Each was animated by white racist fears.”

There have never been reparations for the descendants of those victimized in the Wilmington coup and massacre.

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23 comments

  1. SteveB

    Should have left out the last paragraph. Comparing the two events taints the article. No one was murdered or was forced from their home in 2021.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Absolutely agree. For starters, the Wilmington ‘coup’ was successful. What does one call an unsuccessful ‘coup?’ A ‘riot.’
      Then, in the ultimate sentence, the authoress throws in “reparations.”
      Stirring the pot would be a ‘kind’ formulation for those two last paragraphs.
      I also wonder about the linking up of FDR to Daniels. Is this the beginning of a campaign to demonize Roosevelt?
      The Wilmington event was bad enough. The ending of the article looks to be a partisan “weaponization” of this low point in American history.
      May Day is tomorrow. This could be a distraction from that. Gin up some ‘righteous’ anger against racism so as to obscure the class basis of most oppression. The author did mention that there was an economic aspect to the fear and anger the White Supremacists used to foment the violence.
      Oh well. Same as it ever was.

      Reply
      1. Dirk77

        The comparison to the Capitol riot is also in paragraph three. I stopped reading after that. If the author can’t or won’t get that fact right, what is to believe in the rest. I might as well be reading WaPo or the NYT, wondering where the lies are due to the Narrative™. That said, Thomas Frank talks about Wilmington and other similar incidents in The People, NO. He references an article by Lawrence Goldwyn, “Populist Dreams and Negro Rights: East Texas as a Case Study,” American Historical Review, December 1971.

        Reply
      2. Susan the other

        I think I’d call Wilmington a pogrom. And the same for the Oklahoma incident. They don’t have them so much any more in eastern Europe… but they still have fractioned societies full of really nasty fascists. Of course they are alive and well in Myanmar as we speak; the Rohingya are adrift still. Politics by pogrom – if all else fails. If you are lazy and vicious. It takes some effort to reach critical mass. Tapping into all the ancient prejudices and fears; stirring the shit. Let’s not forget how the whole country thought “Birth of a Nation” was a wonderful movie. Nobody said, “My god that was idiotic.” My father told a story about going to work with his sister’s boyfriend c. 1917; he was the only mechanic in town and everybody with a truck or a car came and went. He told my father. a little boy of maybe 6, that he knew everybody who was in the Klan because he recognized their shoes. No doubt when they all gassed up to go on one of their hideous sprees.

        Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Yes, it is part of a campaign under way to “demonize” FDR as a necessary first step in demonizing and delegitimizing the New Deal itself. FDR himself is to be “acceptable collateral damage”. The real target is the New Deal itself, to prevent and short circuit any effort to restore needed New Deal reforms back into law and rule and reg.

        NaCap itself noted another opening shot in this conspiracy to prevent Renewal of the Deal.
        https://www.politico.com/newsletters/transition-playbook/2021/04/13/clyburn-doesnt-want-biden-to-be-like-fdr-492463

        The reason Clyburn doesn’t want Biden to be like FDR is because Clyburn’s owners and masters don’t want restoration of New Deal tax rates, New Deal legal unionization, New Deal wage rates, New Deal controls on black hat financial perpetrators, etc.

        That’s part of what the Wokester counter-restoration is about. If FDR can be branded as Racist, then the New Deal can be branded as Racist, and Bernie Sanders can be branded as Racist or at least Insensitive to Black People, which is exactly what the Blackkk Racist Pig conspirator Clyburn did in the recent primary. And anyone who wants a return of New Deal type reforms can be called racist, and will be.

        This is not to say that Wilson was not Twentieth Century America’s most evil President. He was.
        One of the most evil things he did was conspiring with Great Britain to trick America into supporting the wrong side in World War One.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I’d go you one step back on that last line, being of English extraction. (I do have a psychic ‘chestnut’ in that fire.)
          America should have stayed out of World War One altogether. Once the Europeans finally exhausted themselves, America would have been in the perfect position to become the World’s Hegemon, twenty-five years earlier than how it turned out in our timeline.
          In general, I’m in complete agreement with you about the campaign to roll back and drive a stake through the heart of the 1930’s New Deal.
          Some might bring up the New Deal redlining aspect of the ‘renewal’ projects. There is legitimate grounds to castigate the old guard for being ‘racist.’ This begs the question, ‘racist’ in comparison to when? In comparison to now, the ‘charge’ has merit. However, if in comparison to the decades preceding the New Deal era, the New Deal projects were paragons of enlightenment.
          When our past is relegated to the “memory hole,” our present becomes untethered to the lessons of history. Ahistorical movements tend to be dysfunctional and destructive, ie. “same as it ever was.”

          Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I am perhaps being a bit michieviously trollish with that little ” wrong side” provocation there.

            Wilson was, however , deeply antiGermanitic. He used the War as a cover to roll out a mass culturacist antiGermanitic campaign against German Americans all over America. America was a bilingual culture zone ( German and English) in many places before Wilson ‘ der Schlechte’ ( ‘ the Evil’ ) rolled out his antiGermanitic persecution campaign all over America.

            Along with his anti-Socialist campaign and I suspect a pro Ku Klux Klan campaign if one were to look for it. I sometimes wonder about the Wilsonian roots of the 1920s Klan.

            Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. I don’t think people rioted at the capitol because they hate black people. Nancy Pelosi and elite politicians, yes, but I just don’t see the racism that so many want to project on the event. There may have been some racists there (there are some pretty much anywhere), but that isn’t what drove it. Conflating the two events lessens the historical point.

      Otherwise, another very good article about things they don’t bother to teach you in school. On a related note, doing nothing about Wilmington led to more real white supremacists burning the burgeoning black district in Tulsa to the ground with impunity a few decades later which should not be forgotten either – https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gabrielsanchez/tulsa-massacre-photos

      Reply
      1. neo-realist

        They were sore losers who didn’t like their guy being voted out of the White House and they decided to go along with the stolen election lie to justify their behavior. Those rioters called a black police officer the N-word 12 times. I guess those guys only back the blue when the faces are white. However, these noble patriots did beat a white cop with a flag pole–equal opportunity thugs.

        Reply
  2. The Rev Kev

    Sounds more like a pogrom that anything else but I suspect that the reason that they were targeted was that poor blacks were finding common cause with poor whites. And that is something that would never be tolerated in America’s Gilded Age as the plutocrats at the time wanted to retain their primacy over workers of any colour.

    Agree that the last sentence should have been chopped. The 2021 attack was by a bunch of different ratbag groups that got as far as they did through DC incompetence and maybe more. The events of 1898 were by the establishment forces at the time in league with the media and given cover by a Republican president. More info here-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmington_insurrection_of_1898

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I see nothing wrong with that last sentence. The living descendants of the Wilmington Pogrom are nameable and traceable. The living descendants of the Wilmington Pogromists are likewise traceable and nameable. I see nothing wrong with stripping every Wilmington Pogromist descendant in particular of everything they have and returning it to every descendant of the Wilmington Pogrom survivors.

      Somehow that doesn’t seem a bit like demanding that the descendants of Finnish lumberjacks in Minnesota somehow owe ” repurayshunz” to the descendants of slaves in Louisiana.

      Reply
  3. Richard

    Last paragraph incident was an “allowed to be” event, and no fire extinguishers met any heads or multiple bullets inn human bodies or any mass killings … just toga wearing privileged type who were a l l o w e d to conduct their theatre on normally protected grounds that would be used to oust the very public deplorable metastasized threat to oligopolic choice-

    So the national DC LIHOP thing and what is in this article is like a cartoon villian that is kind scary for those feeding off of fear vs a thoroughly covered up and whitewashed Wilmington bloodlust dark energy burst that was national karma in criminal public action, with no repercussions tolerated by the infected…

    Sounds like same people and is same people creating a scene they and only they can benefit from… that is the similarity I see butt other than that…

    Thank you for allowing a comment :: I appreciate this site more than ever-

    Reply
  4. Alfred

    I am confused as usual. I get from this that Power in America keeps its grip by fomenting discontent and encouraging different races hating and resenting each other. So how, when this is their MO for retaining power, do they encourage people to stop being “racist?” Is it all PR, like most of politics? Keeping power and keeping people off balance by trying to shame and not acknowledging the fact that people of all races can get along with each other if left to themselves? I always recall this from MLK:

    A leading voice in the chorus of social transition belongs to the white liberal…. Over the last few years many Negroes have felt that their most troublesome adversary was not the obvious bigot of the Ku Klux Klan or the John Birch Society, but the white liberal who is more devoted to “order” than to justice, who prefers tranquility to equality….

    The White liberal must see that the Negro needs not only love, but justice. It is not enough to say, “We love Negroes, we have many Negro friends.” They must demand justice for Negroes. Love that does not satisfy justice is no love at all. It is merely a sentimental affection, little more than what one would love for a pet. Love at its best is justice concretized. Love is unconditional. It is not conditional upon one’s staying in his place or watering down his demands in order to be considered respectable….

    The white liberal must rid himself of the notion that there can be a tensionless transition from the old order of injustice to the new order of justice…. The Negro has not gained a single right in America without persistent pressure and agitation….
    Nonviolent coercion always brings tension to the surface. This tension, however, must not be seen as destructive. There is a kind of tension that is both healthy and necessary for growth. Society needs nonviolent gadflies to bring its tensions into the open and force its citizens to confront the ugliness of their prejudices and the tragedy of their racism.

    It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension. He merely brings out the hidden tension that is already alive. Last Summer when we had our open housing marches in Chicago, many of our white liberal friends cried out in horror and dismay: “You are creating hatred and hostility in the white communities in which you are marching, You are only developing a white backlash.” I could never understand that logic. They failed to realize that the hatred and the hostilities were already latently or subconsciously present. Our marches merely brought them to the surface….

    The white liberal must escalate his support for racial justice rather than de-escalate it…. The need for commitment is greater today than ever.

    The Current House Speaker insults and intimidates “The Squad” and then they act against what they purported to stand for. How in this current power structure will people ever get together? Or are we all just supposed to be guilty and ashamed and apart in perpetuity?

    Reply
    1. Richard

      Guiltless ness is the iodine egoic groups and the severe ly infected guard till their intended host last breath, never allowing any whispering of the key to their dissolve akin to a sno ball thrown into the sea

      Reply
  5. vlade

    What I find fascinating on the US politics is how the Democratic party is, fundamentally, still the same old party-of-current-elites as it was in 1828 when it was created, and ever since. And that they still manage to persuade people they care about somethign else.

    Tories in the UK are similar, except they are even longer running.

    Reply
  6. Chris Herbert

    Words matter. ‘Liberalism’ is a word defining a social point of view. Distinct from a political point of view, or an economic point of view. You can have someone who is a social liberal but who has movement conservative leanings as well. I know that would seem improbable, but there you have it. Consistency is not a DNA trait of homo sapiens.

    Reply
  7. Mme Generalist

    From the interview with Adolph Reed in today’s links:

    One other thing I’d like to make sure I say, it’s a non-sequitur a bit at this particular moment, but I find it really instructive that in the race reductionist bill of particulars against the United States, or against the left, or liberals, or whatever, insist on taking us back to things that happened before 1965. Either slavery, or the Middle Passage, or Jim Crow, or Tulsa, or the 1919 Chicago Riot. I think that that’s instructive, because I think that the race reductionist line and race reductionist politics, it depends on being able to make a case that race defines the life chances of every Black American most fundamentally, and in ways that, by the way, weren’t even true prior to 1965, but are, obviously, much less true since then.

    This is one reason I’ve written about popular culture stuff so much. It’s part of constructing a narrative that presumes that nothing will ever change for Black Americans, and that racism always has been and always will be the fundamental determinant of every Black person’s life.

    It’s worth asking who actually benefits from this revisionist focus, as he does in the paragraphs following those quoted above.

    It requires making louder and seemingly more outrageous and totalistic arguments to press that claim because it’s so at odds with the material facts of everyday life, what people see. I’m not just talking about Oprah, or athletes or entertainers—I mean local governments around the country. Black people, and other than that, non-Whites, of course, are incorporated all the way up to the top. They share a class position.
    Then that begs the question: Why is it so important for those who advocate race reductionist views that we see the world in that way? There are multiple answers. Some people are just ideologically committed in a religious sense, almost. There are class imperatives operating there too.

    To oversimplify a little bit, the people who are most insistent that race solely determines the character and quality of every Black person’s life are people who are dependent, in one way or another, on selling or pimping that view to make their own living.

    Reply
  8. prneost

    This was neither a pogrom nor an uprising/riot.
    On a smaller scale, of course, but it is similar to the Rwanda killings.

    It was a planned, premeditated escalation to the ultimate killings of an unwanted and vulnerable group.
    I think the “winning side” didn’t even realise they were fascists.

    But given the “lesson learned”, I am surprised and angry that not one of the white people became persona non grata after the fact and that they succeeded in pushing their narrative. but this whole work is now a blueprint for others, even today.

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  9. lobelia

    The timing of this piece is quite suspicious (since that Wilmington, North Carolina history has actually been known for decades), when the new president is so very much associated with another Wilmington, that of Wilmington, Delaware, which (both the city, and STATE) have their very own sordid backdrop, which Biden was more than happy to continue.

    For decades now, every time I heard the word Wilmington, I thought of Wilmington, Delaware; I thought of Credit Cards which have charged outrageous, should be illegal, impoverishing interest fees for decades now. And every time I think of tax shelters for Multinational Corporations, millionaires and billionaires, I think of Delaware.

    That’s not at all to say that I don’t agree with reparations, it’s to say that I smell a rat.

    gotta run

    Reply
  10. Kevin Carhart

    I don’t really think Parramore or INET wants to demonize Roosevelt to the point of squelching progressive economics in 2021. If Roosevelt made the guy ambassador to Mexico, then it’s relevant to the article. Both things can be true at once. Roosevelt is not the only possible entry point to those economic policies. They have some resiliency. One of the Parramore stories I remember off the top of my head was a critical article about the Fix the Debt project from Peter Peterson and dweebs Simpson and Bowles. She reported on the CEOs who were supporting it, including Reid Hoffman of Linkedin, Greylock Partners, and the Paypal Mafia. I thought it was solid, useful writing by LP.

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