On Monday, the Rocky Mount city council passed a resolution declaring January 29 as George H. White Remembrance Day in city of Rocky Mount, joining Town of Tarboro, Edgecombe County and city of Durham in such recognition. January 29 is the anniversary of Congressman White's famous farewell to Congress speech in 1901. White was last African American in Congress from the post Reconstruction period. White resided in Tarboro, Edegcombe County and represented N.C.'s Second District from 1897 to 1901 District was called the "Black Second" because of its African American majority elected four blacks to Congress 1872-1900. In a questionable referendum in 1900, North Carolina voters passed constitutional amendment that essentially denied voting rights to blacks until the passage of the federal Voting Rights Act in 1965. In his farewell to Congress speech, White closed by saying,"This Mr. Chairman may be the negro's temporary farewell to American Congress, but let me say Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again."
This year will be the 115th anniversary of White's farewell speech and it will be marked with a George Henry White Day banquet on Duke campus in Durham featuring keynote speaker Congressman G K Butterfield.
Five members of the Phoenix Historical Society: African American History of Edgecombe County were on hand for the Rocky Mount city council resolution Monday evening.
Jim Wrenn Vice President The Phoenix Historical Society, Inc.