North Carolina black man dead 123 years receives funeral

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Joshua Halsey murdered in the November 1898 massacre of blacks in Wilmington, North Carolina, by white supremacists, was honored with a funeral after 123 years, last Saturday (6).

The grave is the first identified of more than 100 victims, according to the Third Person Project, a historical research group. There could be up to 250 people, says John Jeremiah Johnson, who worked on the project, to CNN.

It was the project’s relentless efforts to locate the unmarked graves and a slew of investigations – not just digging through the records of a black cemetery – that led to the discovery.

This is after a state report in 1998 of the 100th anniversary of the massacre that identified two of the victims: Halsey and Samuel McFarland.

Elaine Cynthia Brown, a descendant of Halsey, said the discovery was “surreal” for the family.

“We were in shock because this is so unprecedented,” Elaine tells CNN. “But then we said, ‘You know what? Why not Joshua?”

“Why not be the beacon of what can happen when we discover the truth, discover the truth and unpack it?” Brown said. “You know, this is where it all starts, and the stories will come out as more victims are found and we’ll hear their stories. But now we know it exists… we know we can change what we’ve been told, because we’ll know the true story of what happened here. ”

At the time of the massacre, Wilmington, an American city – like Tulsa, Oklahoma, before the massacre there – had a thriving black community that formed a building and loan association, built libraries. They “were employed in all segments of the workforce, as professionals, skilled artisans, government officials, marine crew members, industrial workers, laborers and domestic workers,” concludes the Wilmington Race Riot Commission, an 1898 black commission.

They were even part of the city government that white supremacists set out to destroy. Shortly after the Democratic Party – the white supremacist party at the time – won the county election by intimidating black voters and altering the results, according to the commission, armed white men set fire to the Daily Record, Wilmington’s Black newspaper and then began attacking the blacks.

“On the same day, local elected officials were forced to resign and were replaced by white supremacists,” according to a timeline of events by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

It is frequently cited by historians as the only violent coup in the United States. The massacre forever changed the culture of Wilmington.

“The events of the 1898 coup marked a turning point in the US South because they changed the trajectory of race relations in North Carolina, and marked the beginning of the state’s Jim Crow laws, which further reinforced racial segregation in the mid-20th century. “, according to an events guide published by the William Madison Randall Library at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

The ceremony is part of a series of events planned November 1-10 by the city, the city of Wilmington and various organizations to commemorate the massacre and honor its victims.

On Saturday, a horse-drawn hearse was taken to the graveyard collected at the site of Halsey’s home. Rev. William Barber II of the Campaign for the Poor – a social justice movement inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. – delivered the praise, surrounded by several of Halsey’s descendants and a multitude of people, both black and white.

“We need to find the remnants of systemic racism that are still happening today and that are still happening today,” Barber said. – And we must call them in Joshua’s name. I’m here to tell you that what killed Joshua is still alive today.

Gwendolyn Alexis, a great-granddaughter of Halsey, teaches African American history, including the Wilmington Massacre, but had no idea she was connected to one of the victims. “And when I found out that my great-grandfather was killed, one of the people killed, I was breathless,” Alexis told CNN. “Because I not only found the family, but the story as well,” and that made it so much more real, she said.

While it was painful, it’s also an opportunity for change, Halsey’s descendants said.

“The truth is always hard to tell, but the more you talk about it, the more it is, you know what I mean?” Brown said. “The more you can accept this, the more you can change things rather than repeat.”

“So we have to tell the truth, talk about it and then find ways to deal with it,” she said. “So that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Reference: CNN Brasil

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