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Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy

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ISBN-13: 978-0807847558
ISBN-10: 0807847550
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Editorial Reviews


The overall quality of this volume, along with the skill and consistency with which it is edited, is unusually high."North Carolina Historical Review"


Anyone hoping to advance the process of racial healing in the United States could do worse than to read these essays and pass on the stories and lessons contained within them.--American Historical Review

|The overall quality of this volume, along with the skill and consistency with which it is edited, is unusually high. The range of essays encompasses the latest and best thinking about race and public life in North Carolina, and interest in this book should be broad. Democracy Betrayed makes a major contribution to the literature about the history of race in North Carolina, adding considerably to what we know about the origins, impact, and aftermath of a watershed event in American History.--North Carolina Historical Review

|An extraordinarily rich and thoughtful collection of essays.--Journal of American History

|[This book's] influence need not be limited to Wilmington. Because it shows national trends and social processes with local concreteness, Democracy Betrayed will be useful in courses on southern history or U.S. race relations.--Southern Cultures

|Writers often transcend themselves when they are willing to confront something ugly in their own society. These writers focus on the overthrow of the last interracial government in the post-Civil War South and the massacre two days later that confirmed as final the national settlement between conservative Northern Republicans and reactionary Southern Democrats. This is scholarship that matters.--William Evans, author of Ballots and Fence Rails: Reconstruction on the Lower Cape Fear

|Cecelski and Tyson have assembled a superb set of papers. While the explicit purpose of this volume is to commemorate the centennial of the 1898 Wilmington race riot, it goes further, much further. The essays offer us a rich understanding of the complex historical interplay of race, gender, and social class--how these factors interweave to form a context promoting and justifying the 1890s wave of racial violence directed at African Americans in the South in general and in Wilmington in particular. I recommend this book not only to those interested in Wilmington and North Carolina history but also to all those interested in southern history and race relations.--Journal of Southern History

|Just as there are lessons to be learned from the recent past, there are lessons to be learned from the events of a century ago. This volume will inform some and remind others that our past can help us understand the challenges that this nation confronts as it undertakes to deal with the problem of race in the twenty-first century.--John Hope Franklin, from the Foreword


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press (November 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807847550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807847558
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,502 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Timothy B. Tyson is Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School, and adjunct professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (1999) won the James Rawley Prize for best book on race and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for best first book in U.S. History from the Organization of American Historians. Blood Done Sign My Name (2004) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, won the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion, among others. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
First let me say that I rarely read non-fiction and even when I do, I rarely manage to finish an entire book of it. Democracy Betrayed is an exception. The writing was clear, precise, right-on, and interesting. And, perhaps most importantly, educational. I was born and raised in North Carolina and knew nothing--absolutely nothing--about the Wilmington Race Riots or the subject of Cecelski's essay Abraham Galloway. I am female and was a victim of gender based racial violence myself so I was aware of the issues raised in Gilmore's essay and White's essay, but I have never seen the issues written about so well. What I most like about this book is that it destroys stereotypes about class and race. After all isn't it the most well-to-do who most benefit from race violence so why should we be surprised to learn that it was not the so-called "white trash" who began the racial massacre in 1898, but the rich, the ones who were most likely to benefit from forcing the elected fusionist party officials out of office and placing themselves in their offices. I never knew--it certainly wasn't taught in my public school--that in 1896 every office in North Carolina was held by a progressive fusionist party member, elected by the fusion of lower class whites and blacks. Imagine how different this state would be, how advanced in talent and intelligence, if the massacre hadn't occurred, if black doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, newspaper editors and writers, etc, hadn't been forced from the state and if the elected officials had been allowed to remain in office. Perhaps what is most important is the book succeeds in "drawing public attention to the tragedy", a tragedy that is apparantly very much in the consciousness of Black Wilmington citizens and very much needs to be in the consciousness of all humans.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though the papers are of uneven quality, the collection is valuable, and potentially useful in a variety of college-level courses. Far too many people do not know about the events that occurred in Wilmington, N.C., or their larger social and political significance, and fulcral role in the deprivation of Black citizens' social and political rights.
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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Herbert L Calhoun on February 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The 1898 "race riot," of Wilmington, NC, which more correctly should be understood for what it really was, "an ongoing white pogrom against blacks," or "a white supremacist insurrection against a legitimately elected interracial government," remains an enduring metaphor for how, "at every appropriate opportunity throughout American history," white Americans have, even today, found ways to betray democracy in the name of the dying ideology of white supremacy. America's imperceptibly slow evolution towards democracy has been nothing if not an uphill struggle against the reactionary forces of "white resistance" to "true democracy."

Never was the white intent to resist change towards democracy, social and political justice and equality, more raw, open and obvious, never more starkly and conscientiously used to snuff out democracy, nor more brutal, than in the 1898 Wilmington "white vigilante resurrection." And for those who might think that this was but an accident or aberration of American history, the attacks on the duly elected government of Wilmington were typical of the times. As always, they rallied the anti-democratic forces to action in the local churches. Even today, the white instigators of the 1898 riots are still very much revered: taught about in schools as heroes, with statutes of them standing tall in the town square.

Unlike today, when the U.S. has become little more than a "greater co-prosperity sphere" for the "moneyed (mostly) foreign interests of the global economy" such as the Saudi Royal family, Christian and Jewish Zionists, and now for Communist Chinese economic expansion, there was once a time, when "true democracy" was about to break out in America. Never was there a more pregnant time for it to do so than in 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina.
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