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Each week at In The Past Lane, the American history podcast, host and Historian-at-Large, Edward T. O’Donnell, brings you news, stories, interviews, and special features on all things U.S. history. His aim is to be both engaging and thought-provoking, inspired by the notion that history explains the world we live in and provides insights into how to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and just future. So come along with us as we journey In The Past Lane.  

Sep 28, 2018

This week at In The Past Lane, the history podcast, I speak with historian Margaret M. Mulrooney about her new book, Race, Place, and Memory: Deep Currents in Wilmington, NC. It’s a book that examines more than 300 years of a southern city’s history of racial oppression and the ways in which its citizens have obscured this legacy with distorted and self-serving versions of events. The supreme example of this trend was the 1898 massacre and coup in which white supremacists massacred scores of African Americans and then overthrew the local government in the only recorded coup d’etat in US history. Mulrooney shows how city officials justified this event by reframing it as an uprising of African Americans that needed to be suppressed, calling it the “Wilmington Revolution” and downplaying the violence. Mulrooney came to this project because in the mid-1990s she was involved in a public history initiative to commemorate the centennial of the massacre and coup. That work stirred a lot of controversy because Mulrooney’s work challenged the convenient cover story for what happened in November 1898 by demonstrating that it was a naked and calculated act of white supremacist political violence. That experience prompted Mulrooney to write Race, Place, and Memory to examine the long sweep of the city’s history to reveal many incidents of white supremacist violence, both before and after 1898, that were either forgotten or misremembered. It’s both a history of a representative southern city and a consideration of the role of public history in fostering an accurate vision of the past and insights into the challenges facing American society in the present.  

Recommended reading

 Margaret M. Mulrooney, Race, Place, and Memory: Deep Currents in Wilmington, NC (University of Florida Press, 2018

Leon Prather, We Have Taken A City: The Wilmington Racial Massacre and Coup of 1898

More info about Margaret M. Mulrooney

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Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Going Home” (Free Music Archive)

Cellophane Sam, “Run Hound” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting

Podcast Editing: Wildstyle Media

Photographer: John Buckingham

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Website by: ERI Design

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© In The Past Lane, 2018

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