NHCS to teach 4th grade students about 1898 massacre

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County Schools is updating its curriculum for 4th graders, now including a lesson on the 1898 Wilmington massacre and coup d’état.

The curriculum change comes after North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction changed its standard for 4th grade social studies, which listed the Wilmington Race Riot as one of the example topics.

The Wilmington Race Riot is now listed under the social studies objective for 4th graders as an example of a way revolution, reform and resistance have shaped North Carolina.

 In 1898, white supremacists overthrew the city’s government and forced black leaders from Wilmington, in what historians consider the only successful coup d’état in American history.   

“When we reference it, we normally reference it as 1898. We don’t do it as a race riot. Remember we take our guidance from the state, but we think about the community and the students we serve. So, we’re going to adapt things, and make it best for our students,” said Patrice Faison, New Hanover County Schools’ chief academic officer.

A spokesperson with NC Department of Public Instruction says the updated standards show examples that may be included in the curriculum, and that all curriculum decisions are made on the local level.   

 New Hanover County Schools’ Chief Academic Officer Patrice Faison said starting this year, students in fourth grade will get a brief overview of 1898.   

“We do not go too deep for a 4th grader or a 3rd grader. Even when we’re talking 8th grade, we go deeper, but we would go higher the older you get. We keep in mind the age of that we’re addressing. Our teachers are professionals, you know that. They know how to come across and make sure that the standard is taught,” said Faison.     

Deborah Dicks Maxwell, president of the North Carolina NAACP, says with the topic added to the district’s curriculum, it will benefit student’s knowledge of state history.  

“The fact that 1898 will be part of the curriculum for students in New Hanover County and the 4th grade will truly show the history of the city which they live in and they will grow up and become productive citizens. We need to tell all the truths of our state history, not just parts of it. I know with the young students learning it, it will get the information out, because some of their parents may not be aware of it,” said Deborah Dicks Maxwell, North Carolina NAACP president.


New Hanover County Schools has taught the topic to 8th grade students for years, but this school year will be the first time it’s taught to 4th graders.


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