Nov. 10, 1898

Men gather outside the remains of The Daily Record after the Wilmington massacre. Credit: Library of Congress

Editor Alexander Manly escaped a lynch mob in Wilmington, North Carolina, that ordered him killed on sight. Manly had already gained a reputation nationally for his commentary that challenged negative racial stereotypes. 

Unable to kill Manly, the mob of 1,500 white supremacists burned down his newspaper, The Daily Record, the state’s only daily Black newspaper. The mob then embarked on a massacre, killing as many as hundreds of the town’s 2,100 Black residents, dumping their bodies into the Cape Fear River. The mob burned Black homes and businesses, forcing Black citizens to leave town. The white supremacists seized control of the local government and published a “White Declaration of Independence.” 

Manly made his way to Philadelphia, where he became a member of the Black newspaper council and helped found The Armstrong Association, a precursor to the National Urban League. 

“The aftermath of the coup helped usher in the ‘Jim Crow’ era of the South,” Newsweek wrote. “No Black citizen served in public office in Wilmington until 1972, and no Black citizen from North Carolina was elected to Congress until 1992.” David Zucchino’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy” tells the story of what happened.

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.