Wilmington was an outlier in the post-reconstruction American South, with a Black political, social, and economic community that was present, engaged, and promising.
Black Wilmingtonians were making an impact in a city that was thriving, diverse, and on a progressive path towards equity.
The violence of November 10, 1898 took Black lives, Black property, Black futures, and forever changed the diverse face and prospering core of Wilmington.
More than 100 years later, Wilmington remains deeply segregated and inequitable. It’s time to examine our past to understand our present and create the future we want.
Initiative 1897 uses artwork and community dialogue to examine the centuries-long inequities that communities of color have faced. A series of large-scale portraits of Black men and women were commissioned to share how they helped usher in change in the Wilmington area. Sharing their stories provides an on-ramp for engagement in the search for more pathways toward equity.