It has been years since many people in the audience attended class, but Thursday night they were ready to learn at Williston Middle School - pens and paper in hand. More than 200 people came out for the first session of Wilmington in Black and White. Focused on race relations in Wilmington, the course was taught by Tim Tyson, the Senior Research Scholar at Duke's Center for Documentary Studies. “It's about our racial history and this is a piece that has brought out every piece of the community from young to old, black to white, socioeconomic lines have been crossed,” said Kimberly McLaughlin-Smith who helped organize the course. With help from gospel singer Mary Williams, Tyson began the first class with the focus on Wilmington's history, specifically the 1898 race riots. Angel Wellington attended the course and said, "I really wish that we could understand each other better. It's a dire desire of mine to understand someone who didn't grow up in my house, who didn't grow up on my street, who doesn't necessarily think the way I think, so that those gaps are bridged." New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said building trust in the community starts with truth, which is learned from looking at history. "This is a historic moment and it's neat to have a history class that recognizes that maybe today is one of the greatest days in the history of our area." "Perhaps we can walk away and go wow, I learned something brand new about somebody's inside, not about how they look on the outside,” said Wellington. Over the next six weeks, the course will eventually focus on race relations in modern-day Wilmington. There is still time to sign up. Students pay $5, everyone else $75. To sign up for the course you can call 910-962-3195.
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