One of the greatest gifts a person can give another is to share their story. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Tillery, North Carolina. Beyond the natural beauty to be enjoyed everywhere you looked, I had the privilege to hear the stories of several members of the Tillery community and experience great cooking at the Resettlement Cafe.
Tillery Plantation was farmed by 150 slaves at its peak and descendants of those slaves as well as other farmers from across North Carolina and the Southeast formed the Tillery Resettlement Community in the 1930’s as part of the New Deal Resettlement. “Persistent racism in the administration of [USDA] programs” led to some farmers of Tillery losing their land and today none of the 300 original families or their children are farming in Tillery.
In March 2013, The Concern Citizens of Tillery will celebrate 35 years of promoting the “social, economic, and educational welfare” of the community. Originally formed to fight against the closure of Tillery Chapel Elementary School, CCT continues to play a role in advocating for the community, including better educational opportunities for all Halifax County students.
The next generation is already in action! It was inspiring to meet Trequan McGee, a senior at Northwest Halifax High School, who is organizing students to ask the County Commissioners to merge the three school districts in Halifax County in order to provide equal educational opportunities to all students in the county. Read more about the students’ effort here. Still curious? Check out UNC Law’s Center for Civil Rights report here.
If you find yourself in Eastern North Carolina, a delicious Southern meal at The Resettlement Cafe is a must! Located on NC Highway 561 North in Tillery the cafe serves Breakfast and Lunch from 7:00a – 2:00p Wednesday – Saturday. I can personally vouch for their turkey barbecue, dirty tatars, cole slaw, and corn bread!
A tour of the History House, the local history museum, located on the grounds of the Tillery Community Center is not to be missed! The History House is a restored original resettlement home on a former plantation worked by generations of slaves. Even if you cannot make the trip, you can still hear their stories and learn about Tillery’s rich history here.