Plantation cancels Juneteenth event that focused on plight of ‘white refugees’

‘Sympathizing with an overseer who is no longer allowed to enslave people is disgusting,’ one critic says on social media

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
@GustafKilander
Saturday 12 June 2021 16:25
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<p>An event at the Historic Latta Plantation in North Carolina was cancelled after it sparked backlash for it focus on ‘white refugees’. This image was taken on 15 April 2006. </p>

An event at the Historic Latta Plantation in North Carolina was cancelled after it sparked backlash for it focus on ‘white refugees’. This image was taken on 15 April 2006.

A North Carolina plantation has cancelled a Juneteenth event that focused on the plight of “white refugees” after it sparked a fierce backlash.

The event planned for 19 June, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the US, included stories from “former bondsmen”.

“Hear how they feel about being freedmen,” an event description that’s now been deleted said.

But large parts of the description was about the experiences of white people, saying: “White refugees have been displaced and have a story to tell as well.”

The description added that attendees at the Historic Latta Plantation north of Charlotte would also hear from defeated Confederate soldiers.

The since-deleted description says: “You will hear stories from the massa himself who is now living in the woods. Federal troops (Yankees) have him on the run and his former bondsmen have occupied his home and are now living high on the hog. Hear how they feel about being freedmen.

“The overseer is now out of a job. What will he do now that he has no one to oversee from can see to can’t see? White refugees have been displaced and have a story to tell as well. Confederate soldiers who will be heading home express their feelings about the downfall of the Confederacy.”

“From can see to can’t see,” is an expression used to describe the long hours slaves were forced to work, from the first light in the morning until it grew dark in the evening.

A backlash started to form against the event, which was subsequently cancelled.

Commenters expressed their outrage on the plantation’s Facebook page.

“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 person wrote.

One Facebook user added: “You chose to refer to confederate soldiers as ‘white refugees’. You referred to a SLAVE OWNER as ‘massa’ (SHORT FOR MASTER) ‘on the run’ and the overseer is ‘now out of a job’ and ‘what will he do now that he has no one to oversee’? I hope whoever created a slave homage and scheduled it on JUNETEENTH is now ‘out of a job.’ Seriously. That’s disgusting.”

Plantations have long been criticised for for presenting an inaccurate image of the South. Last year’s racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd increased the pressures on plantations to be honest about the horrors of slavery and racism.

Mecklenburg County is in charge of the nature preserve where the Latta Plantation is located. The county said in a statement on Friday that they have “zero tolerance for programs that do not embrace equity and diversity”.

“Park and Recreation was not aware of the planned event at Latta Nature Preserve until it appeared on social media. We immediately reached out to the organizers and the event was cancelled. As a result of this incident, Mecklenburg County is looking at its contract with the facility vendor regarding future programming.”

The Independent has reached out to the plantation for comment.

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