North Carolina updates historical marker to call 1898 violence a 'coup' instead of 'race riot'

North Carolina updates historical marker to call 1898 violence a 'coup' instead of 'race riot'

North Carolina will update a historical marker to use the word "coup" instead of "race riot" to describe white Democrats' violent overthrow of an elected government of black and white officials 1898 in Wilmington.

The marker will be dedicated Friday, according to The Associated Press, which reported that its original text referred to a "race riot" but will now say “Wilmington Coup."

North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program Administrator Ansley Herring Wegner told the AP that “you don’t call it that anymore because the African Americans weren’t rioting.”

“They were being massacred,” Wegner added.

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In the incident, the white mob seized the government, destroyed a black-owned newspaper and "terrorized" the African American community, North Carolina's natural and cultural resources website said. In the following months, restrictions were placed on voting rights for black people. 

A highway marker for the paper's editor, Alex Manly, uses the phrase “race riot,” the AP noted, adding that its dedication was 25 years ago. 

New Hanover County's NAACP chapter president, Deborah Dicks Maxwell, told the wire service she was upset by the original marker language that said “violence left up to 60 blacks dead” because it is not clear how many people were killed.

“We’ll never know how many people died,” she said. “Black lives didn’t matter at that time in terms of reporting or documentation."