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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Intersection of class and race in Wilmington's racial violence

Nantambu discusses the intersection between race and class, using that to explain why poor whites resorted to racial violence more quickly than middle and upper class whites because race was all that ensured their power. In 1971, this meant that the poor whites organized the Rights of White People (ROWP) and began attacking black neighborhoods.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LARRY THOMAS:
You know what happened in 1898--the same thing I guess that happened in '71, too--poor whites were actually the initiators of the violence.
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Definitely. Well, it's a known fact. It's been explained by many black educators, many aware black leaders, that poor whites hate us more than upper-class whites because of the fact that they're being treated the same way and they feel like their color gives them a superiority over us, and they hate to be treated the same way as us. So they feel like they have to lash out their hostilities and violence toward us rather than their own people. That's what that situation is. They did initiate the ROWP--which we'll get into later--that was one of the fine organizations there which was a vigilante organization of white people here, basically made up of nothing but poor white people.
LARRY THOMAS:
Where were they from?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Basically from Sunset Park, a lot from Winter Park, some from around the park area.
LARRY THOMAS:
What do you think they considered their purpose was when they were ...
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Oh, to sustain the white order. To sustain the order of this community, the tradition of this society, and to keep the niggers in their place. They wasn't going to let things just transgress or transcend to a new era or a new level of understanding and development because we wanted it that way. They say, "The niggers might be demanding, but we're not going to let them have it." They fought to sustain things as they were.