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N&O Acknowledges Role In Wilmington Race Riot

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The News & Observer confronted a painful episode in its history Friday when the newspaper published a special section detailing the Wilmington race riot of 1898.

Many call the riot the only successful coup d'etat in U.S. history. Armed whites drove out the black government elected during Reconstruction and took control of the city.

The section clearly stated that a campaign of white supremacy led to the Wilmington riot and that the News & Observer was a leading participant in the campaign.

"Sensational headlines and accounts of supposed Negro crimes were Daniels' stock in trade," the paper said, referring to former editor and publisher Josephus Daniels.

Orage Quarles III, the newspaper's current president and publisher, said he had no qualms about confronting the paper's past.

"It's part of our history," said Quarles, who is African American. "The idea is to acknowledge it, to learn from it and to move forward."

Six months ago, the Wilmington Race Riot Commission issued a lengthy study on the event. It recommended that descendants of victims be paid for the injustices their families suffered and that newspapers acknowledge their role in the events of 1898.

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