Black Discourses in North Carolina, 1890-1902: How North Carolina’s Black Politicians and Press Narrated and Influenced the Tumultuous Era of Fusion Politics

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2018-04-13

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In the late 1890s, Black North Carolina was a model and beacon for the race. In their own narrative of racial progress and advancement, these communities were recognized for accomplishments in education and literacy, enterprise, and social development. Towns like Wilmington and New Bern emerged from both the debasement of a slave economy and the devastation of civil war into communities that, while not perfect, provided opportunities and inspired countless Black people. In the ensuing years, when racial violence, disfranchisement and segregation consumed the state, the myriad gains made were severely diminished. Thousands of Black people lost homes, business, and communities to racial terror and white supremacist policies. Many, as in the case of the Wilmington race riot and coup, lost their lives. Despite the very capable efforts of historians and scholars to document and reflect on this history, there is still much work to be done. In seeking out the Black intellectual and public voices from the period, this thesis is striving to help flesh out the picture a little further. Much of the collective narrative is one of loss, of setbacks, suppression, and devastation; yet, there is far more to learn from Black North Carolinians of the turn of the century. I read hundreds of first-hand accounts, personal letters, newspapers articles, and editorials produced by Black people, from many different perspectives. What these voices most reflected for me, was not what people lost, but what they retained. What they refused to lose.

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Sharpley, Dannette (2018). Black Discourses in North Carolina, 1890-1902: How North Carolina’s Black Politicians and Press Narrated and Influenced the Tumultuous Era of Fusion Politics. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/16675.


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