Mecklenburg County canceled Ina Campbell's Latta Plantation on Tuesday.
Lee Jones the director of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation told the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners that the county would not be renewing the annual contract with Latta Place, Inc. on June 30, 2020.
Jones caved to social media pressure to cancel Historic Latta Plantation and Ina Campbell. The non profit had managed the property since 1972.
District 6 Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell piled on the hate:
"This is why we need to do a racial equity audit across the report" then adding "We should be doing a deep deep dive, in all our departments".
(The horror of the cliché' "deep deep dive". Ugh!)
Cancel Culture just took Ina Campbell's life and not one commissioner objected. Not one.
Its hard being descendant of 8 generations of Southerners dating back to 1734. My mother's side of the family even before that.
John Edmonds fought with the 26th Alabama, captured at Gettysburg, he took one look at the conditions in the Union prison camp and thought hell no. Somehow, he was given an option of swearing allegiance to the Union or waiting out the war in a Union prison. Edmonds stopped whistling Dixie right there and then.
His father was from Laurens South Carolina and the family still owns property in Laurens and Anderson Counties. Other family members were from Union and Lancaster and Guilford counties.
There are no records of any slaves owned by any family member on either side of my family. Not surprising since most upstate farms were ill suited to mass unmechanized agriculture.
So in the late 60s when my father inherited 600 acres of farmland in Union County he was somewhat surprised to learn the property came with a woman by the name of Ufila Johnson and her grown son Albert.
Miss Ufila Johnson was the descendant of slaves. Born around 1890 she was quick witted and a joy to be around.
Seems Miss Ufila grew up in what we would later call the "Slave Quarters" it was down in the meadow out of sight of the main house which sat up on a hill. In fact the main house sat atop the highest elevation in Union County.
The Byrum Farm was once a busy dairy operation. When Woodrow Byrum passed away in 1965 he was widowed and had no living children and so the big house sat empty.
After his death, Miss Ufila and her son kept the farm going with the help of Tate Robinson a hired hand.
But the money ran out and the farm fell into disrepair. Soon the dairy cows were sold off. The property languished for three years, as the estate moved through probate court.
By 1967 Miss Ufila had moved into the big house. The slave quarters' roof had collapsed.
When my father drove up the long gravel drive in the spring of 1969, I imagine is was a troubling day. White man in a fancy Carolina Blue Ford Thunderbird wearing a suit and tie.
The house was huge, in fact much like the Latta Plantation House. Wide hallways and hardwood floors. Double hung 12 light windows. French doors between the living and bedroom spaces. It had running water but the bathroom was an outhouse and the water was only in the kitchen which was really just part of the screened-in porch.
My father spoke at length to Miss Ufila and her son that day. They reached an agreement with my father were they could stay as long as they desired. I don't know the terms or any of the reasoning behind the agreement.
They never paid rent yet looked after the property and took care of much that came about.
The next ten years are a blur. It wasn't until I was maybe 12 when I began to understand Miss Ufila and what she represented. 100 years after the civil war she was still part of that past.
She was a fixture in my childhood. To this day just thought of her makes me smile. Miss Ufila could snatch up a chicken, take its head off with and axe and have in a pot of boiling water in ten seconds or less and do it in one smooth motion.
A minute a later she was pulling the final feathers off the headless bird. To this day Chick Fil A doesn't really do anything for me.
But let me tell you something.
All this aghast and hate about the South and Jim Crow and systemic racism and oppressed people and how the word Plantation is racist and on and on......
Is really narrow minded and embarrassing.
I would come to learn that her father was a freed man but stayed with the family that owned his father. Not much had changed in the rural south by the time 1970 rolled around. People got along no matter what their color, they took care of each other as God and the land provided.
They simply lived and worked as they had done for generations.
Ufila Johnson's father was no more free than his father was because he was chained to the land. This was their life and so it became his daughter's.
The Byrum Farm became Brigadoon Farm. The dairy operation was replaced with a cow calf operation thanks to the Dickerson Family and Sally Mac Farms. Polled Hereford said the Brigadoon sign.
The "Slave Quarters" ended up on the walls of an uptown Charlotte restaurant.
The Byrum Home and Barn today are gone but the weather vane I still have.
I'm telling you this because Ian Campbell couldn't tell you about Latta Plantation's story. But I imagine its is much the same.
The rural South was not a changed culture in 1865, there was no Juneteenth celebration. Life wasn't easy before and it wasn't easy after.
Yet so much has been lost to cancel culture, this sort of hate, that even this story will be pointed out as racist and an attempt to glorify the south's racist past.
So be it. I've got a chicken on the grill ya'll have a good night.