Biographer honors G.H. White at signing
On Saturday, August 21, author Ben Justesen returned to the Bladen county area where he began his journalistic career to tour the center honoring George Henry White, the historic figure that he has brought to public attention in four books.
In addition to signing copies of his various books, Mr. Justesen donated a number of important books to the George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center. Some two dozen people were on hand to welcome him and hear his remarks on his latest book, Forgotten Legacy: William McKinley, George Henry White, and the Struggle for Black Equality. He outlined the unique way that this president and the sole congressman of color collaborated to try to turn back the tide of race-based erosion of rights, including White's proposed legislation to make lynching a federal crime. Sadly, the loss of the vote for black voters, and the assassination of McKinley, spelled the loss of representation for black Americans for another 30 years.
Historian Earl Ijames, of the North Carolina Museum of History and North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, was on hand with his wife, Gina, to participate in the event.
The center's project leader, Vincent Spaulding, recounted the influence that Justesen's works had on building public awareness and coalescing support for the establishment of the center, which is a living tribute to the legacy of George Henry White. In his remarks, Justesen recounted his accidental discovery of this Bladen and Columbus county native son, and how his curiosity led to the research and writing of the four books.
The attendees then toured the center and purchased signed copies of "An Even Chance in the Race of Life," Justesen's first biographical work on the GH White. "This was a significant event, bringing together the chief biographer and one of the projects inspired by GH White's legacy," said Vince Spaulding. "We hope to have many such events in the future, as well as the educational and health programs that can empower our local area."