Wilmington & Nevassa
NFG National Convening 2023
Partners In Community, Inc. Leads Local Learning Visit
From May 8th to 11th of 2023, Partners In Community, Inc. (PIC) gathers alongside Amplify Fund Grantees in Wilmington, North Carolina. These Eastern North Carolinian organizers engaged over 200 stakeholders gathered for the Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) National Convening.
In Partnership with the Amplify Fund, PIC hosts a tour spanning historic sites across Navassa, Leland, and Wilmington, North Carolina. Funders from across the United States intimately absorb the history of Black and Brown resistance through the testimony of local community leaders.
Journey to “The Bluffs:” Navassa, North Carolina
For the first leg of the trip, attendees gather in Navassa, North Carolina at the historic “Bluffs.” Overlooking the Cape Fear River, the site historically served as an active hub for industrial activity. Between railroads and factories, the site became increasingly polluted by industrial waste and corporate greed. Community Leaders gather at the site to discuss the ensuing impact on Navassa’s economy and environment.
Eulis A. Willis, the mayor of Navassa, addresses the crowd, painting a narrative of resistance. African Americans employed in or near the Bluffs suffered the economic and environmental consequences of unsustainable land use. Furthermore, Leland councilwoman Veronica Carter expands the story into the site’s modern impact on Brunswick County.
The church tells a story of resilience in the rural, Brunswick County community. Funders and Organizers alike are moved to tears as they preview the interior of the building. The culmination of historic joy-making and modern cultural reclamation creates a palpable energy. As Beatty details the future of the restoration, attendees file past in awe. Soon the site is set to open to the public, cementing the church in local Black history.
Rebuilding Resilience at Reaves Chapel: Navassa, North Carolina
Historian George Beatty meets Attendees at the doors of Reaves Chapel in Leland, North Carolina. Opened site in 1922, the church welcomed families of formerly enslaved African Americans who formerly worshipped on the riverfront. The current site is revitalized by an ongoing restoration project from 2019. Using authentic pieces from the original structure, the white walls and stained glass windows will soon be a historic landmark for visitors to the rural area. Just steps away, a historic Gullah Geechee trail also undergoes construction.
Uplifting History at the 1898 Memorial Park: Wilmington, North Carolina
Finally, attendees take a stop at the 1898 Memorial Park in Wilmington, North Carolina. Dedicated in 2008, this site commemorates the lives lost in the Wilmington Massacre. In this historic event, white supremacists violently attacked sites connected to Black journalists, economists, politicians, and civilians. Known as the only successful coup d’etat on U.S. soil, this massacre took the lives of thousands of Black Wilmingtonians. This massacre changed the social landscape of Wilmington, pushing surviving blacks into the rural outskirts of the city.
Cedric Harrison of WilmingtoNColor tells the detailed story of the event. As attendees listen, they tour the entirety of the park, which presents multiple dedicated memorials. At the conclusion of the Learning Visit, guests were enthused by their newfound connection to the site of the Convening. In a joint effort between Funders and Organizers, local leaders gave a voice to the history of Black Resistance in and beyond the city of Wilmington.