More News

TOP STORIES: Community Talks Race Issues

By Vicky Janowski, posted Dec 18, 2020
Prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, protesters took to the streets of downtown Wilmington earlier this year. (Photo by Michael Cline Spencer)
George Floyd’s killing in Min­neapolis on Memorial Day launched conversations about race relations across the country, in­cluding in Southeastern North Caroli­na.
On the heels of other high-profile cases of Black people killed this year, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, Floyd’s death while in police custody sparked protests around the country. That included in downtown Wilmington, which at times over the months of daily protesting saw tense moments and use of tear gas from law enforcement, but largely avoided wide­spread property damage and violence that occurred in some other cities.  
Floyd’s death also factored into discussions about law enforcement reforms. Wilmington’s new police chief, Donny Williams, who started the job June 24, on his first day fired three officers who were taped on video using racist language.  
Williams said recently that the police department is undergoing an “internal cultural reset,” including items such as bringing in policing implicit bias train­ing; involving citizen panels to help select lieutenant and captain candidates for promotions; and partnering with the Georgetown University Law Center to implement project ABLE, or Active Bystandership for Law Enforcement, to train department personnel on ways to intervene if they see employees making mistakes such as officer misconduct.  
“WPD is one of the first departments in the country to offer this program and the first in Southeastern North Caroli­na,” he said. “This type of training has been used for years in other industries but is new to law enforcement.”  
Businesses nationally and locally responded with statements against rac­ism, and leaders pushed companies to examine their own organizations.  
“I hear our businesses putting out statements left and right … but there’s an old cliché that I live my life by: ‘You must walk the talk,’” YWCA Lower Cape Fear CEO Velva Jenkins said in June, two weeks after Floyd’s killing and the start of the protests. “If we’re going to say it and put it in writ­ing, then we must do something.”  
The events nationally did prompt some companies to seek out implicit bias training and look at the diversity of their hiring and promoting practices.  
Others in Wilmington, which has its own complicated history on race and discussions around the 1898 massacre, are working to help grow the area’s base of minority business owners.  
Backed by investment from Cas­tleBranch, Genesis Block launched this year to create programs to help minority- and women-owned business­es, including a searchable directory of Black-owned businesses in the region.  
“Our goal is to have 1,000 of these companies by the end of 2021,” Girard Newkirk, who along with his wife, Tracey, co-founded Genesis Block, said about the Genesis List directory.

Top Stories of 2020:

Ico insights


Tidewaterinvestmentco merrettemoore headshot

Where To Make Money In Private Company Investing: Potential. Growth. Predictability.

Merrette Moore - Tidewater Investment Company
Capefearrealtors tomgale headshot

Promoting The Affordable American Dream

Tom Gale - Cape Fear REALTORS®
Connorkeller headshot

Rational Behavior During Irrational Times

Connor Keller - Live Oak Private Wealth

Trending News

Feds Investigating NCino Employment Practices Under Antitrust Laws

Cece Nunn - Feb 25, 2021

'Just Enough': Bar Owners React To First Indoor Drinking Allowed Since Pandemic Began

Cece Nunn - Feb 25, 2021

Craftspace Aims To Raise Up To $150K Through Crowdfunding Campaign

Christina Haley O'Neal - Feb 24, 2021

At Mayfaire, Local Store Expands Into Former New York & Company Space

Cece Nunn - Feb 25, 2021

WilmingtonBiz Talk: Booming Housing Market

Cece Nunn - Feb 25, 2021

In The Current Issue

Family Hooked On Restaurant Life

For the Clemons family, running a good restaurant centers around simplicity – providing fresh, affordable, tasty food that is served well....

Transit Director Leads Adaptation

Wave Transit’s role in the community’s physical and economic well-being is something Wave’s new executive director, Marie Parker, wants resi...

Watercraft Handcrafted In Wilmington

Cape Fear Catamarans on U.S. 421 customizes, designs and builds aluminum boats....

Book On Business

The 2021 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100