Opinion: George Henry White
Imagine being the only person able to speak for an entire people? In 1897, George Henry White was the only Black American serving in Congress—the sole voice to represent 10 million citizens. For four years, two terms, he stood up against the swelling tide of race-based politics; introducing the first-ever Bill against Lynching, calling for a national enforcement agency to investigate hate crimes, and warning of the consequences of denying equal treatment to citizens of color.
A successful lawyer, landowner, and entrepreneur, George H. White was known for his unwavering ethical stance and his passion for empowering others. Pushed from Congress when vast numbers of his constituents were disenfranchised, he chose to serve by helping Black Americans build economic power. He knew, from his own life, that prosperity, lifelong learning, and strong family bonds would triumph over hate and exploitation.
A man whose words ring as true today as they did a century ago, G.H. White stands as an American hero. Now, his story—silenced for so long--can finally be told.
About the George Henry White documentary:
A small steering committee of the Benjamin and Edith Descendants’ Foundation developed this project in an attempt to bring the untold story of an outstanding American to light. The writing and research of author and biographer Ben Justesen was augmented by photographic research that combed the archives of the Library of Congress, historical organizations of North Carolina, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and newspapers of the era. Producer Kate Tsubata and film editor Mie Smith of LightSmith Productions assembled all the images and materials gathered through the work of many dedicated contributors. The production is intended to be the first step in a much more comprehensive effort to bring awareness of this unique individual—and others like him—to the broader public.
Special thanks goes to:
Eric Frazier, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress Sonia Forry, Library Coordinator Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society Kim Cumber, North Carolina State Archives Charlene Peacock Nancy Taylor Presbyterian Historical Society, Presbytarian Church (USA) Bernie Blanks Cheryl Spaulding Conserned Citizens of Whitesboro Judy Harkins, New Bern, NC The Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Foundation