Author Topic: Name decolonization  (Read 2151 times)


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Re: Name decolonization
« Reply #60 on: November 11, 2022, 04:10:11 pm »

Two days after a tightly contested election in the fall of 1898, a white supremacist mob descended on Wilmington, North Carolina — a Southern oasis of Black prosperity during the Reconstruction era — to take back the city from “Negro rule.”

The rioters razed long-standing Black businesses, burned down the city’s only Black newspaper, and overthrew a mixed-race, democratically elected city council in what is considered the only successful coup in American history.

More than a century after scores of Black residents were killed in the insurrection, Wilmington named an elementary school after one of its ringleaders: Walter L. Parsley.

No one protested when school board members approved Parsley’s name in 1999, and the tribute survived for 21 years. But by summer 2020, local activists had connected the name to one of the coup’s leaders, stirring fury and a petition drive to change it.
What happened in Wilmington in 1898?

In the nights leading up the 1898 statewide elections, Parsley and eight other co-conspirators planned the government takeover at his Market Street home, according to a 1936 pamphlet by local journalist Harry Hayden.

As reporters at the local Black newspaper — the Daily Record — began writing up election results on Nov. 10, 1898, exactly 124 years ago, about 500 white businessmen and Civil War veterans, armed with rifles and racial animosity, barged into the paper’s headquarters and set the building ablaze. The insurrection then swelled to 2,000-strong across town, as the attackers spread now-debunked rumors that Black journalists had fired first.

But the coup wasn’t discussed much otherwise or a regular part of history lessons. On purpose.
So as Confederate monuments fell like dominoes nationwide, all remained quiet in Wilmington, until a petition in June 2020 to rename the school drew more than 2,500 signatures.

That was the trigger. The following month, an unknown perpetrator vandalized a sign at the entrance to then-Parsley school. In bold red spray paint, the message read: “Rem[em]ber 1898, change the name” on one side, and “BLM” on the other, with a giant “X” through Parsley’s name.

Local civil rights organizations began to rally around name changes — both for the Parsley school and for Hugh MacRae Park, which was named for another architect of the massacre.

“For a young black child to go to a school that was named after someone who imposed a massacre killing black people, that has a psychological effect,” Sonya Patrick-AmenRa, an organizer for Wilmington’s Black Lives Matter chapter, told Port City Daily.

Thank you BLM!

But for all of the fervor around name changes in Wilmington, racial tension still pervades the city and the school system. Black residents say they still feel the sting of 1898, which significantly reduced the city’s Black population and wiped out the thriving business class.

New Hanover County Schools remain among the most segregated school districts in the country. What used to be Parsley Elementary is more than 80% white and stands down the street from a row of multi-million dollar houses, while schools only a few miles away educate mostly minority students from lower-income families.

For Maxwell, the NAACP chapter president, the name changes are a step in the right direction, but merely one step toward true racial justice.

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