Wilmington's dark history gave way to a bright future today with the erection of the 1898 Race Riot monument. After years of preparation, the memorial finally took shape. With plenty of hands to help and a crane to carefully put each crafted piece in place, the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 monument will now be a permanent fixture in the city. Sculpture artist Ayokunle Odeleye said, "This is designed to be a memorial of reconciliation and celebration. We don't call it a race riot sculpture or anything like that. This is an 1898 memorial symbolic of people living harmoniously together in this community." Not only has this monument touched our community, but it has also reached out to those already traveling to see it. Walter Robinson is fascinated with his family's roots. He traced his family back to the time of the Wilmington race riots. "That's what drove my grandparents and others like them out of Wilmington. I can't tell you how moved I was," said Robinson. Wilmington was a much different place in 1898, and many agree the monument is evidence the city has come a long way. Wilmington resident David Jordan said, "I think it's a monument to what's good in Wilmington." Hannah Vaughan, 1898 Foundation member, said, "I am delighted. I think it will be a wonderful place for people in Wilmington to think about race relations and focus on moving forward together." The sculpture is made up of six bronze paddles to represent a journey to the next life. It pays homage to the African-Americans who lost their lives in the riot. The 16 foot bronze monument is at the intersections of North Front Street and North Third Street. The monument will be officially dedicated in November.
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