‘Wilmington on Fire’ screening to benefit local students

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The upcoming screening of Wilmington on Fire, about the 1898 attack on the local black community, will benefit Williston students and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Courtesy image.
The upcoming screening of ‘Wilmington on Fire,’ about the 1898 attack on the local black community, will benefit Williston students and the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. Courtesy image.

Filmmaker Christopher Everett is returning to Wilmington this month, this time to give back to the community that spurred and supported his documentary.

Coming off of a state and national screening tour, Everett and Speller Street Films will show “Wilmington on Fire” at 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 18 in the auditorium of Williston Middle School, 401 S. Tenth St.

Williston’s own students are beneficiaries of the presentation, along with Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC. A portion of ticket sales will benefit the school’s various youth programs, and the food bank will set up ahead of and during the screening to collect canned goods and monetary donations. Among other efforts, the local non-profit assists food-insecure families who struggle during the summer months, when children’s access to free meals is limited.

New Hanover County Schools does serve lunch at no cost to children and youth during summer vacation at various county sites, including Gregory Elementary, which is adjacent to Williston. But the food bank hopes to fill in the gaps for those who will still miss breakfast or do not have transportation to the lunch sites.

Everett’s decision to use his film as outreach was motivated by the Port City and its people, whom, he said, have “embraced” his documentary since it premiered at Cucalorus in November.

“It feels great to be back in Wilmington, where it all started,” Everett said. “This time around, I wanted to host a few community screenings and help some of the schools and organizations that are striving to help the youth in the community.”

“Wilmington on Fire” tells the story of what is now referred to as the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, a bloody attack on the black community by an armed white mob and with the support of the state’s Democratic Party.

Everett said the violent uprising is considered “one of the only successful examples of a coup d’état” in the nation, one that resulted in the deaths of dozens of black residents and the exiling of many more. In “Wilmington on Fire,” he explores how the event served as a springboard for the white supremacy movement that then took hold in Wilmington, across North Carolina and throughout the country.

Tickets to the Williston screening are $10 and may be purchased online or at the door.

Ahead of the Williston screening, Everett will be a guest on the June 13 episode of UNC-TV’s “Black Issues Forum.” The show will air at 5 p.m. on channel 6.