Mecklenburg Co. allowing extra time for Latta Plantation to remove items from property before contract expires

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County is allowing extra time for the Historic Latta Plantation to remove items from its property before the contract officially expires.

Previously expected to end on June 30, the contract will now expire on July 14 only to allow items to be removed and not for any other events.

This comes after WBTV found emails between the county and Latta raising concerns about items inside some of the buildings Latta owns. The contract group was wondering they were going to get their items back.

On June 15, the county said it was letting their contract expire with the Historic Latta Plantation over a controversial event which many deemed as racially insensitive.

The contract group was planning on an event called “Kingdom Coming” taking attendees back to the post-Civil War era. County Commissioners sounded off about the controversial program.

The problem was many felt it was too divisive with characters referred to as “massa” and actors portraying confederate soldiers at the event.

The Mecklenbury County Parks and Recreations director said they were letting the contract with the group expire after they shut down the event. Members say they want to make sure this never happens again.

It was swift condemnation by Commissioners Tuesday night, and an even swifter action taken by Parks and Rec.

There were calls for a deeper-dive and looking at programs all across the county, not just at Latta Plantation.

The ire of the board came into a fine focus last week, when Historic Latta Plantation INC, a group that leases the plantation and some surrounding acreage at the nature preserve, put out a controversial Facebook post.

Historic Latta Plantation is located in Huntersville, just outside Charlotte.
Historic Latta Plantation is located in Huntersville, just outside Charlotte.(HISTORIC LATTA PLANTATION)

The program was to coincide with Juneteenth, a day many celebrate the abolition of slavery. But this event left many feeling unsettled and angry.

In this live action presentation, participants would interact with a character called the “massa” - a slang term used by slaves towards their oppressors. He was also referred to as a “white refugee.” There would also be confederate soldiers that would answer questions about life after the Civil War.

When Mecklenburg County got wind of the program, they immediately shut it down.

Mecklenburg County alerted Historic Latta Plantation INC they were going to allow the contract with the organization to expire as of next month - a group they’ve been working with since the late 70s.

W. Lee Jones, the Parks and Rec Director said this wasn’t the only questionable program the group was planning to put out.

“One is a camp for young confederate soldiers that they want to have young kids do and that’s scheduled for next week, and then they have another camp for young ladies I guess to teach them how the southern belles used to sew and along those lines,” Jones said.

Commissioner Vilma Leake, who was there during the civil rights era, described the pain many feel over an event like this.

“It brings back a lot of hurt, and it rubs us the wrong way,” Leake said.

Board members said they’ll be taking a closer look at any future agreements the county will be getting into.

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