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By Heidi Hannoush, Undergraduate Intern

Photo Credit: Heidi Hannoush

On February 18, creative writing students enjoyed a lecture from David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent and an alumnus of UNC’s School of Journalism. Two classes from the Department of English & Comparative Literature—Professor Bland Simpson’s “Introduction to Fiction Writing” and Professor Ross White’s “Editing and Publishing”—attended the talk.

Zucchino spoke about the process of researching and writing his new book, Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy. The book details the Wilmington insurrection of 1898, during which an armed mob of white supremacists overthrew Wilmington’s local government, killed at least sixty black citizens, and imposed Jim Crow laws. Zucchino shows that what occurred in 1898 was not a “race riot,” as many narratives have claimed, but a carefully orchestrated white supremacist rebellion.

“It was inspiring to see someone take on the responsibility of being the person to help right a wrong, even if they themselves were not a part of that wrong,” said Deborah Gardner, one of the students present for the lecture. Anissa Deol, who also attended, emphasized Zucchino’s insistence that the ideas and emotions that spurred the 1898 rebellion remain powerful today. “His book was a segue into that conversation,” she said.

Gardner and Deol are both aspiring writers and storytellers. Gardner is a journalism major and creative writing minor; Deol is a double major in journalism and peace, war, and defense. They commented on having the chance to learn from an established writer like Zucchino. “I think it’s amazing that we have opportunities like this,” said Gardner. “It just reminded me that, as a person whose future job is to be a storyteller, I should make sure that I tell the stories as accurately as possible and help give voices to those who are voiceless.”

Deol added, “It really was an honor to be able to listen to the insight he gave to the students and see how long this project took, how much it meant to him, and how much it should mean to everyone else.”

Photograph of Bland Simpson, David Zucchino, and Ross White
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