A North Carolina plantation that was planning to hold a Juneteenth event centering on “white refugees” has decided to cancel the gathering “due to security concerns for volunteers and staff” but will not apologize for attempting to “educate the public about former slaves becoming FREE!”
The Historic Latta Plantation in the Charlotte suburb of Huntersville, North Carolina, was previously advertising a now-canceled event that was scheduled for June 19, called “Kingdom Come,” that would have given attendees the opportunity to “hear stories from the massa himself who is now living in the woods,” as well as the overseer who “is now out of a job” and trying to figure out what to do next “now that he has no one to oversee,” among other white-centric views of the end of slavery.
Site manager Ian Campbell, who identifies as “an American man of African descent,” responded to the backlash in a lengthy open letter shared on the plantation’s website. In the message, Campbell doesn’t apologize, but instead defends the event and even takes aim at Charlotte’s mayor and other critics in his message.
“To tell the story of these freedmen would be pointless if the stories of others were not included,” he wrote, addressing the lack of Black stories included in the original event. “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. How would we know how the enslaved became free or what their lives were like before freedom came?”
Campbell, who started his career at the museum as a volunteer before working his way up to his current title, accepted full responsibility for the event plan and made it clear he was standing his ground in his mission to educate. “I, Ian Campbell, Site Manager of Historic Latta Plantation take full responsibility for its content entirely! To the masses on social media and politicians, no apology will be given for bringing a unique program to educate the public about former slaves becoming FREE!
“The Confederacy will never be glorified, white supremacy will never be glorified, plantation owners, white refugees, or overseers will never be glorified,” he continued. “What will be commemorated is the story of our people who overcame being snatched from their loved ones in Mother Africa and taken to a new and strange land. To work from can see to can’t see from birth to death. The fact that they survived and we are here and continue to thrive and prosper will be glorified.”
On Friday, June 11, Mecklenburg County, where the plantation is located, released a statement saying that they have “zero tolerance for programs that do not embrace equity and diversity,” and as a result is now reviewing “its contract with the facility vendor regarding future programming.”