Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Reckoning for North Carolina History Books

It all started at a 1990 dinner in Wilmington, North Carolina with the late Frank Capra Jr.

Photographer Allen Weiss, now also a filmmaker, learned from the Hollywood scion about the darkest of November 1898 days in his hometown.

A group of White Supremacists, led by Civil War Colonel Alfred Waddell, burned down the offices of the country's then only black-owned daily newspaper, the Wilmington Record. The angry white mob swelled and threatened to shoot other African-Americans on sight. The black majority population fled to the swamps and many never returned, turning Wilmington into a white-majority community.


All these years later, Weiss is readying a feature film about the ghastly Wilmington events. There is no official death toll, because the racist uprising was never reported or prosecuted. Although these events were left out of many history books, they have come to be known variously as "The Wilmington Insurrection of 1898," "The Wilmington Massacre of 1898" and "The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898." In 2005-2006, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission published a 500-page report about the events, though it's worth noting that what occurred was not technically a race riot.

Weiss has opted not for a belated courtroom drama framework. Rather, his script ties the events to a fictitious love story. The only fact-based characters in his piece are Alex Manly, owner of the Record, and the aforementioned Waddell. Still, A Reckoning has all the ingredients of a powerhouse indie drama.

The Commission report includes a Web Power Point presentation. View it here.

[A Reckoning]

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