Repeating our History

Election Day, 1920, Orange County, FL, the county where I grew up. Black groups had been conducting voter registration drives. When Mose Norman, a Black man, tried to vote, a white mob went after him. In the next two days homes of nearly all of Ocoee’s Black families were destroyed by fire. Some estimates are that the white mob killed as many as 60 Blacks, maybe more.

My writing research into racial politics of North and South Carolina in the late 19th century has led me to two events, both related to Black men trying to vote. No doubt there were many, many more. 

Nov. 8, 1898, Phoenix, South Carolina. A white man was collecting affidavits from Black men who had not been allowed to vote. When local *Democrats ordered him to stop, he resisted and a fight broke out. The Democrats opened fire on the crowd of Black men who had gathered. Over the next few days 600-1000 white men descended on the town, burning homes, lynching four Black men, and killing an unknown number of others. No one was charged with the murders.

Nov. 10, 1898, Wilmington, NC. After the election, a mob of 2000 white supremacists, angry that a Black-white coalition had won the election, destroyed the property of Black citizens, killed perhaps as many as 300 people, and overthrew the election. For some time it was called a race riot and blamed on Black citizens of Wilmington, but now considered to have been a coup d’etat.

Wednesday’s attempted coup followed an election in which Black voters played a major role. It was not just about Trump. Insurrectionists were saying this is a white country and Black citizens’ votes shouldn’t count.

* Following Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s most southern white Democrats became Republicans.

5 thoughts on “Repeating our History

  1. As you said, here we are again. So sad to recognize that, even though there has been some progress, there are rock bottom issues that remain unchanged.

  2. The heartbreaking truth of the depth of continuing prejudice in this country is overwhelming. Rooted in not looking about how this country was developed and grew on the sweat and backs of those so many insist on calling ‘the others.’ Every one of us are immigrants. Speak to most Indigenous people and they will tell you that those we call American Indians we not the first people to walk this land. It is so easy to walk in Love and hold all People in your Heart as One. To hate is hard work.
    Thanks Nancy for your wisdom shared.

  3. This was well stated, Nancy. So much bloody history (and present), all giving lie to the belief that “This isn’t who we are.” Sigh. Scottie

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