Charlotte Readers Podcast: Philip Gerard

Philip Gerard

“Cape Fear Rising” – Historical Fiction

In today’s episode, we meet Philip Gerard, author of “Cape Fear Rising,” the historical fiction book which was re-released this year on the 25thanniversary of its publication, because the truth in it remains a story that needs to be told, especially in a time when there are places in this world where white supremacists are still on the march.

Charlotte Readers Podcast is sponsored by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Learn More About This Episode
Learn More About This Episode

In today’s episode, we meet Philip Gerard, author of “Cape Fear Rising,” the historical fiction book which was re-released this year on the 25thanniversary of its publication, because the truth in it remains a story that needs to be told, especially in a time when there are places in this world where white supremacists are still on the march.

Did you know that in 1898, black citizens held most of the city’s government offices in Wilmington, North Carolina? Did you also know that a well-connected group of white citizens staged a bloody coup, fixing the 1898 election by threat and then killing and running many black citizens out of town?

When the book was first published, Philip Gerard recalls that he was a relatively naïve, untenured assistant professor at UNC Wilmington who was unprepared for the backlash in the community when descendants of white leaders who had stolen the 1898 election and the property of their fellow black citizens fired back with threats of their own to the author. Gerard didn’t learn until many years later that the Board of Trustees intended to deny him tenure because of the book and would have done so but for one trustee, the late Owen Kenan (a descendant of Rand Kenan, one of the 1898 ringleaders), who spoke up for the author, saying that to punish Gerard for writing the book would go against the core value of academic freedom.

We start with Philip reading a scene near the opening of the book when the Red Shirts, a group of white Wilmington hoodlums, exert their power over a black preacher and the white journalist does nothing but tell his upset wife that it is none of their business.

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