The Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville, N.C., recently advertised a Juneteenth event that aimed to tell the stories of “white refugees,” Confederate soldiers who were sad about losing the Civil War and freed slaves living “high on the hog”—all from the perspective of an unemployed slave master.
Then, after people swiftly informed the history museum that this was both brazenly racist and a very stupid idea, the event description was deleted Friday.
The Observer reports:
“On its website and on social media, the living history museum promoted the $25 ticketed event, called “Kingdom Coming,” which was set to take place starting at 7 p.m. next Saturday, on Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the United States. The event has since been cancelled.”
“… The event’s description, which didn’t acknowledge the significance of June 19, started with lines from a mournful slave spiritual some scholars say is aligned with the Underground Railroad: ‘Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home.’”
“The event billing is sympathetic to those who owned slaves in the aftermath of emancipation, and inaccurately minimizes an unnamed slaveowner to an “overseer,” referring to him as “massa.” The post on Latta Plantation’s site also refers to “freedmen” but inexplicably omits that Black people were enslaved in the United States for nearly 250 years. Instead, the museum’s site refers to slaves as “former bondsmen.”
What kind of Django Unchained, Rachael Kirkconnell, alternative facts white nonsense is this? I feel like we really shouldn’t be surprised that an actual plantation that has been transformed into a “living history museum” is out here intending to commit racist acts–on Juneteenth of all days–but yet, here we are.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles commented about the situation on Twitter.
“We should not support any business or organization that does not respect equality, history, and the truth of the African-American people’s journey to freedom,” she said. “Despite intent, words matter. And the Historic Latta Plantation should know better.”
WCNC Charlotte reports that Mecklenburg County also denounced the ill-conceived event, saying that county parks and recreation officials didn’t know about the event until it appeared on social media. The county said it is now looking at its contract with the plantation regarding future programming.
The town of Huntersville co-signed Mecklenburg County’s zero-tolerance stance on programs that don’t “embrace equity and diversity.” The town announced Friday that it will hold its annual financial contributions to the plantation until investigations “into the facts surrounding this event” are done.
Neither the Latta Plantation nor the event organizer have issued statements about the debacle as of Saturday morning.