Highway marker describes 1898 Wilmington violence as ‘coup’

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The state of North Carolina is moving away from using the phrase “race riot” to describe the violent overthrow of the Wilmington government in 1898 and is instead using the word “coup” on the highway historical marker that will commemorate the dark event.

The heading on the marker reads “Wilmington Coup,” but the originally approved text used referred to a “race riot,” which eventually was deleted. The marker will be dedicated Friday in Wilmington.

Ansley Herring Wegner is administrator of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. She says the term “race riot” is wrong because African Americans were being massacred, not rioting.

In 1898, white Democrats violently overthrew the government of legitimately elected blacks and white Republicans in Wilmington in what’s viewed the only successful coup d’etat in American history.

Associated Press

Associated Press

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