Chapter 5.1


    One immediate consequence of the racial violence of November 10, 1898 was the exodus of a great many African Americans from Wilmington. In addition to those who were forced to flee, sometimes for their lives, hundreds of others fled the city the day of the riot, hiding with relatives in the countryside or even in the woods or swamps. Railroad officials in New Bern reported large groups of black families heading north on the Atlantic Coast Line, and estimated over 300 left Wilmington by rail within a few days of the riot.

    This exodus continued in the next months, as the economic and political consequences of white supremacy became evident. The black majority disappeared virtually overnight, as some 1500 black citizens--representing some 14% of the African American population--left the city within a year. By 1900, whites were in a majority, and the ratio of whites to blacks increased in the following years, as African Americans chose to leave their home and move north, out of the Jim Crow South.

City population in 1898: 
20,452 (11,722b, 8,731w)
City population in 1898: 
20,555 (9,744b, 11,222w)
    Many successful black businesses in Wilmington left in the wake of the riot and the establishment of white supremacy. Ninety percent of the downtown eating establishments had been black, as had eighty percent of the barbers. Many of these black businesses closed within a few years of the riot and coup, as white supremacy took its toll, economic and political, on African Americans in Wilmington.

Black businesses in                    Less than 40% of those
Wilmington, 1897                       still remained, 1900

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