NC plantation faces controversy for Juneteenth event referring to slaveowners as ‘white refugees’

"You will hear stories from the massa himself who is now living in the woods,” the since-deleted post read about the planned Juneteenth event.

A historic plantation in North Carolina is under withering backlash for a planned Juneteenth event that promised a perspective from a slave master.

The Historic Latta Plantation located near Charlotte, NC is a living history museum and farm that offers education, guided tours that cost $9 for regular admission, re-enactments that predominately feature white people, and workshops about life in the 19th century Carolina backcountry.

They desire to bring “history to life,” but that stated purpose seemingly went too far with their latest offering.

On Friday, the Latta Plantation courted controversy after a Facebook post was posted—and promptly removed—from its online calendar. ‘Kingdom Coming, ‘ a $25 ticketed event, was billed as a glimpse into the feelings of an overseer of a plantation and referred to slaveowners as “white refugees.”

Latta Plantation Juneteenth
A re-enactment at the Latta Plantation (Credit: Latta Plantation/Facebook)

“Swing low, sweet chariot, coming to carry me home! Come out to the historic Latta Plantation for a one-night event, Saturday, June 19, 2021. You will hear stories from the massa himself who is now living in the woods,” the since-deleted post read.

“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 freedom. 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. Confederate soldiers who will be heading home express their feelings about the downfall of the Confederacy.”

The post did not appear to mention how the formerly enslaved were adjusting to their new freedom. Instead, the emphasis seemed to be more on how the white people around them felt about these perceived setbacks in their lives. Furthermore, the enslaved are referred to only as “bondsmen,” and derisively “living high on the hog.”

Ryan Pitkin, journalist and editor of Queen City Nerve, flagged the controversial post. He shared that it was taken down from Facebook after “commenters let them know just how awful of an idea it was.”

Mecklenburg County provides funding for the Latta Plantation and issued a statement on Friday over the post. They announced that the county has “zero tolerance for programs that do not embrace equity and diversity.”

The statement continued that Park and Recreation were not aware of the planned one-night event until its advertising appeared on social media. It was confirmed that ‘Kingdom Coming’ would no longer take place and its future association with Latta Plantation is now in doubt.

“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 statement concluded.

This is not the first time that the Latta Plantation has been subject to criticism. According to the Charlotte Observer, a Black tour guide chose three Black students from a group from the Union County Schools to act out the lives of slaves in 2009. Officials at Latta Plantation denied any malice behind the action.  

Juneteenth Emancipation Day Celebration, June 19, 1900, Texas (Mrs. Charles Stephenson/Wikimedia Commons)

‘Kingdom Coming’ was scheduled for Saturday, June 19 from 7- 9 p.m. The date is a historic one for Americans and especially the Black community.

The origins of Juneteenth—the end of chattel slavery in the United States– come from enslaved people in Galveston, Texas being belatedly informed of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, which freed slaves in the southern states on Jan. 1, 1863.

They became aware on June 19, 1865, more than two years later.

‘Kingdom Coming’ did not mention the significance of Juneteenth in its promotion of the event.

theGrio reached out to the Latta Plantation for comment about the event and its cancellation.

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