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Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club announces 1898 massacre memorial student essay competition

Members of the Wilmington Journal Breakfast Cli
Camille Mojica
Members of the Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club, a non profit, announcing the symposium.

Thursday morning, members of the Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club announced plans for the 125th anniversary of the 1898 massacre, including a contest geared at students.

The Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club is partnering with the R.S. and T.C. Jervay Foundation, to sponsor a symposium commemorating the 125th anniversary of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre.

Spokesperson Cash Michaels announced that starting September 9, they would be sponsoring the first inaugural Mary Alice Jervay Thatch Memorial 1898 Student Essay. The goal? For students to learn about the history of 1898 in full, without any outside influence.

Michaels referenced the recent temporary removal of the book Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You by the New Hanover County school board:

“You know, we were all so concerned about who's going to teach our children what and so forth and so on. We're not doing that. We're letting our children teach us, Hey, man, we're letting them do the research," he said.

The five-hundred-word essays will be reviewed by three educators, and first, second, and third-prize winners will be chosen and awarded $500, $300, and $200 respectively.

Activist Sonya Patrick-AmenRa said the contest will teach students how the events of 1898 still affect the Wilmington community today. And, she noted that while money isn’t the main purpose, it’s not insignificant, and can be used for scholarships.

“We hope this essay contest will inspire future leaders, future journalists, future editors, and public officials of tomorrow," she said.

The Wilmington Journal Breakfast Club works in tandem withThe Wilmington Journal, the oldest newspaper Black-owned newspaper for the Black community in North Carolina. The Journal is seen by many as a successor to The Daily Record, the Black-owned paper that was attacked and burnt to the ground during the 1898 massacre.

Patrick-AmenRa spoke on the history of Black news in the region:

"The Journal was bombed by white supremacists in 1973. And The Daily Record was burned by white supremacists in 1898 ... We lost the Black press in '98. It would be a disservice to our community and to humanity to lose it again in 2023," she said.

Any student in grades 8-12 residing in New Hanover County can participate, including private, charter, and homeschooled students. Applications must be submitted with a parent or guardian’s permission and be found here.

Camille hails from Long Island, NY and graduated from Boston University with a BS in Journalism and double minors in Classical Civilizations and Philosophy. Her story focus revolves her deep care for children, young adults and mental health. You can reach her at cmojica@whqr.org.