Film on Wilmington Massacre sheds light on forgotten history

“In the Pines” uses historical fiction to explore the events and impact of the 1898 racial conflict

ASHEBORO — The John Locke Foundation held a screening of “In the Pines,” a short film about the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, at the Asheboro Public Library on November 2.

Directed by Dugan Bridges, “In the Pines” is a piece of historical fiction following Scarlett Manning, played by Pandora Broadwater, as she shares her memories of the events leading up to the massacre. The younger Scarlett, portrayed by Amara Ayler, navigates the challenges of the time with her friends Ashleigh, played by Corrinne Mica, and Ashleigh’s love interest, Sam, played by John Potvin. The film provides a narrative framework for understanding the often-overlooked Wilmington Massacre. “The purpose was not to be a historical documentary,” explained Greg de Deugd, the creative director of the John Locke Foundation. “It was to get people interested.”

In 1898, Wilmington, N.C., had a racially integrated government, with several black men in office. But following a White Supremacist propaganda campaign, the Democratic Party orchestrated the only successful coup d’état in U.S. history. On November 10, 1898, they killed numerous black citizens and officials, seizing control of what was then North Carolina’s largest city. The exact death toll remains uncertain, with estimates ranging from 60 to 250. Potvin, who portrays Sam, emphasized the importance of recognizing these historical events: “It’s an important part of American history, and too often these stories get swept under the rug for no good reason. So to help shine a light on these events, it became about having a responsibility to bring this history forward.”

The John Locke Foundation, a nonprofit think tank, strives to promote truth, freedom, and the future of North Carolina, including raising awareness of the state’s history. Through initiatives like the North Carolina History Project and productions like “In the Pines,” the foundation seeks to educate and engage the public.

The Asheboro community gathered to view the film and discuss the historical significance of the 1898 events. De Deugd and Dr. Troy Kickler, Senior Fellow and Managing Director of the John Locke Foundation, introduced the film and facilitated a Q&A session afterward. De Deugd noted, “It’s a fictional story, but it’s an honest story.”

The 19-minute film has received significant recognition, earning more than 10 awards at film festivals across the nation and globally, including Best Short Drama and Best Period Film. For additional details, visit

By Ashley White

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