UNCW to Screen “Wilmington on Fire” Documentary About 1898 Violence

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The University of North Carolina Wilmington will host a public screening of “Wilmington on Fire,” a documentary about the deadly 1898 uprising that unseated an elected government and helped entrench white supremacy laws in North Carolina, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 in Kenan Auditorium. The screening is sponsored by UNCW Presents and the Association for Campus Entertainment.

Following the screening, Kimberly McLaughlin-Smith, UNCW’s diversity and inclusion specialist, will moderate a panel discussion, “How Artists Can Create Social Change.” Panelists include the film’s producer and director, Christopher Everett; UNCW creative writing professor Philip Gerard, author of Cape Fear Rising about the 1898 event; local filmmaker Jacqueline Olive; spoken word artist Khalisa Kelly Rae; social justice consultant Jada Monica Drew, along with Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and researcher Kent Chatfield, both of whom are featured in the film.

“‘Wilmington on Fire’ helps tell the story of our community’s history,” said Kristen D. Brogdon, director of UNCW’s Office of the Arts.  “We decided to host a panel discussion to see if we could add something to the conversation. We want to contribute to positive change, and to help artists lead that change.”

The screening and discussion are among many intercultural events over the next several months, including the Dance Theatre of Harlem on Feb. 8, Daniel Beaty on Feb. 13, Marcus Roberts Trio in April and Savion Glover with Jack DeJohnette in June. The “Wilmington on Fire” showing also falls during the week of the national holiday honoring the civil rights legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose youngest daughter, Bernice King, is scheduled to speak at UNCW Jan. 22.

The events of Nov. 10, 1898, began as an armed white mob burned the office of the Wilmington Record, a black-owned newspaper, and overthrew sitting African-American officials in what is often described as both a massacre and the only successful coup d’état in U.S. history. Violence spread, and an unknown number of African-Americans were killed or forced to leave the city.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased by calling the Kenan Box Office at 910.962.3500 between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at

-- Tricia Vance and Venita Jenkins