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Crimes against humanity
The forum was open to the public and allowed people to ask any questions they had about slavery and the history of Wilmington in 1898. (Photo: Basil John/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –Teaching the past to benefit the future. That was the mission tonight for the New Hanover chapter of the National Black Leadership Caucus. They’re calling it “Crimes Against Humanity.” Dozens gathered at the New Hanover county public library to discuss the matters like what happened in Charlottesville, but also looked back at events that took place in Wilmington, back in 1898.

“We’re here to bring community dialogue and an agenda about the 1898 massacre which is the only government takeover, right here in Wilmington, North Carolina and compare it to the current events of Charlottesville,” Sonya Patrick, a North Carolina Black Leadership Caucus representative, said.

Many were asking questions and learning about the impact of racism in the past and present.

“There’s a lot of things that happened in 1898, still exist here in Wilmington, those principles and beliefs, not only in Wilmington , but in the entire country,” Patrick said.

Some on the panel say education plays a key part in this and teaching about the acts of the confederacy is important.

“Our history is vitally important to ensure that the future we are able to construct for our children is a future based on truth, around talents, around ambition and dreams and hopes and desires as well as opportunity,” Kim Cook, a UNCW sociology and criminology professor, said.

They also wanted to emphasize the importance of reflecting on the past for a better future.

“I think it’s imperative that we do not sugar coat the history of the confederate as well as the 1898 massacre,” Patrick said.

“What we need to do in our community is not just look at what happened in the past but plan for seven generations to come,” Cook said.

Patrick says she is glad people are interested in making a difference because change starts with those who want to make a difference.

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