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GH White Day invites luminaries

On Saturday, May 18, experts from around the nation will gather for George Henry White Day at the center that memorializes his name and legacy.

“The George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center is hosting historians, attorneys, community workers and filmmakers who have helped revive awareness of the life and legacy of this Rosindale native,” said Vincent Spaulding, project leader.  “His story was silenced for too long.  Together, we are bringing his dreams to life.”

An impressive array of participants reflects the extent of GH White’s impact, including North Carolina Museum of History’s Earl Ijames; biographer Ben Justesen; Phoenix Historical Society’s Jim Wrenn and John Wooten; George H. White Bar Association president Finesse Couch and Board secretary Antoinette Burwell; PBS North Carolina documentary producer Mike O’Connell; philanthropist Robert Egleston; and Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro representative Stedman Graham. 

The centerpiece of the occasion is the George Henry White Center itself, which visitors can tour during the old-fashioned backyard cookout that will kick off the program at noon, prior to the start of the formal presentations at 1 p.m.

“This was a century-old farmhouse,” explains Dr. Milton Campbell, key donor and president of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation which sponsors the center.  “Volunteers and professionals helped transform it into a thriving community center that is changing lives for the better.”

“What’s unique about George Henry White’s story is that it inspires so many to action on projects of value,” remarked Earl Ijames.  “Books get written. Television and film documentaries get made. A center gets built. A law association gets formed.  Classes get taught.  Communities get empowered.  History gets preserved.  People of many walks of life come together to make things…better.”

On hand will be Robert Egleston, a direct descendant of Claude Kitchin who replaced George Henry White in Congress when the vote was taken from most black citizens in the state.  Upon learning about GH White’s story, Egleston decided to donate a valuable historic family heirloom—an engraved silver water urn presented to Kitchin by the Congressional House Ways and Means Committee where he served for nearly two decades.  The urn will be on display at the event, a tribute to the power of reconciliation to heal the past and build a better present.   

Following his political career, serving first in North Carolina’s state legislature and then in Congress from 1897 to 1901, GH White embarked on a path of financial empowerment for people of color.  He founded a bank, a law firm and a land development company, and established the town of Whitesboro, New Jersey where black citizens could own land, farms and businesses.  He built the Whitesboro School—which is still standing—to ensure every child could receive an education—deeding it to the township for one dollar.   

From that town emerged author and international speaker Stedman Graham, who travels the nation and world teaching principles of success in any endeavor.  “GH White could have taken an easy road, but he chose to build things that would consistently add value to many lives.  He didn’t just seek personal success, he had a bigger vision—success for all,” said Graham.

“The George Henry White Center also promotes local history through exhibits on Black Inventors, a library of North Carolina history and ongoing presentations,” explained the center’s programming coordinator, Carol Caldwell.

“Memorial plantings and stones honor significant community figures who have passed,” said superintendent Ocie Jones. “And we have just finished a media production room to capture the stories people remember and the current events of the local area.”

“Everything we do here is for all people,” explained Ocie Jones.  “We’re here to serve the whole community.  Everyone is welcome.”

The event begins at noon, and will wrap at 4 p.m.  While there is no charge for attending, the coordinators ask people to register their names and number of guests, to prepare a sufficient amount of food and beverages.

 You can register by calling 910-445-0269 (leave a message if after hours.)  Or go to the website: www.ghwmemorialcenter.com.  The center is located at 731 Farmers Union Road in Clarkton, NC; Directions and the Google Maps location is linked to the name “George Henry White Memorial Health and Education Center.” 

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(Media are welcome.  Please contact Kate Tsubata for details about video and camera set ups or to arrange interviews.)



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WWAY Highlights GHW Day

Nate Mauldin of WWAY TV 3 in Wilmington covered the May 18 celebration of George Henry White Day at the Center. https://www.wwaytv3.com/historians-advocates-gather-to-celebrate-the-forgotten-legacy-of

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