Plantation Planned Juneteenth Event that would Tell the Stories of Displaced ‘White Refugees’Breaking News
tags: Civil War, Confederacy, public history, plantations
The North Carolina plantation’s Saturday evening event promised to share stories of its “former bondsmen” on June 19 — a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. “Hear how they feel about being freedmen,” a now-deleted online blurb said.
But most of the event description for a Juneteenth activity at Historic Latta Plantation dealt with White people, seemingly fallen on hard times. “White refugees have been displaced and have a story to tell as well,” it declared.
Visitors to the site just north of Charlotte would hear from defeated Confederate soldiers, the description said. Also from “the massa himself who is now living in the woods” and on the run from the Yankees, his home taken over by the people he used to own. Then there was the overseer, “now out of a job.”
“What will he do now that he has no one to oversee from can see to can’t see?” the event description asked, using an idiom to reference the punishing hours that Black enslaved people were made to work — from first light to dark.
A backlash built. The event was canceled. And the plantation’s Facebook page filled with scathing reviews and dismay that a historic site would so whitewash a cruel and racist past.
“This should not even need to be said, but the idea of ‘hearing from massa himself,’ and sympathizing with an overseer who is no longer allowed to enslave people is disgusting,” one online reviewer wrote.
But Ian Campbell, the plantation’s site manager, staunchly defended the program in a statement posted online while saying that he took “full responsibility for its content.” Identifying himself as an “American man of African descent,” Campbell said his event was badly misconstrued.
“To tell the story of these freedmen would be pointless if the stories of others were not included. Many of you may not like this but, their lives were intertwined, the stories of massa, the Confederate soldiers, the overseer, the displaced white families,” Campbell said.
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