Cucalorus is screening the documentary Wilmington On Fire this Saturday, March 25th at Portia Mills Hines Park as part of our Pop-Up Cinema Series. The evening will begin around 6pm with free hot dogs and popcorn, and tunes from Bigg B and the Coast 97.3 truck, followed by the screening at 8pm.
In preparation for one of the most impactful movies to come out of Wilmington, we sat down with the Director – Christopher Everett – for an exclusive interview. If you’d like to meet Christopher and ask further questions, Cucalorus is hosting a discussion the day after the screening, March 26th at 4pm at Jengo’s Playhouse (815 Princess St).
Cucalorus: What inspired you to make Wilmington On Fire?
Christopher Everett: I was inspired to make Wilmington on Fire after I heard about the history back in 2008. I saw that the Black perspective was never a part of the conversation when people would discuss the 1898 massacre, so that made me want to tell the story from a different perspective and I felt the best way to truly tell this story was through a documentary medium.
Cucalorus: What lasting impact does the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 have on Wilmington today?
Christopher Everett: The lasting impact of the Wilmington Massacre on the city of Wilmington today is all around. The lack of growth of the city since 1898, the lack of Black-owned businesses and wealth within the Black community, and the lack of Black political power within the city are all lasting effects from the 1898 massacre.
Cucalorus: While making the film, were people generally open to discussing the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 or was there still some resistance to confronting that history?
Christopher Everett: When filming, I had a few people that were hesitant, but only about being on camera and sharing stories and the history on camera. They were very open in wanting to discuss everything, but some didn’t want to be on camera. But for the most part, the descendants, historians, activists and researchers that we interviewed were willing to share everything they knew.
Cucalorus: Why do you think America’s only coup d’etat has such a low profile in our history?
Christopher Everett: I think this history has had a low profile in North Carolina because it’s one of the main reasons why we have so many racial problems within the state; plus it’s been a badge of shame for all of these years. But I’ve noticed that more places outside of North Carolina actually teach this history and know this history. It goes back to what Larry Thomas (who’s in Wilmington on Fire) always says.. “The secret is, there is no secret.”
Cucalorus: What do you hope Wilmington On Fire accomplishes?
Christopher Everett: I hope it accomplishes a lot of things. One thing that I hope it accomplishes is to recreate another 1898 commission and a serious one that will investigate more in regards to making a case for reparations. And another thing I hope it can do is to force the state of NC to incorporate learning about this history in our school system.
For more info about the screening, check out the Facebook event HERE.
Thanks to contributing writer Winston Orzechowski.