My North Carolina roots run deep. I was born in the Tar Heel state, at the old Woodard-Herring Hospital in downtown Wilson, to be precise. That was in 1961, but my family tree was planted firmly in Carolina soil over four hundred years ago. If I include the Native American branches of the family, the roots are deeper and older than that. There is suspicion that one of the original Jamestown settlers was the first of my European ancestors to set foot in the New World, May 14,1607, but the connection has never been proved. Although it is highly likely that Thomas Webbe is the seed from which my family grew, records were lost or burned. The documented Webbs I sprang from just appeared, very near Jamestown, shortly after the settlement of the first permanent English colony in America. The other roots of my tree arrived a few years later in 1633.
Parts of my family tree are planted firmly in Southeastern Virginia. The branches range from colonial governors to indentured servants. Volumes have been written about the Herndons of Virginia. Not much was penned about the men who came on ships paid for by wealthy adventurists. These men had to work off the cost of their passage by improving land for the investors. That’s where my North Carolina connection begins. The two main branches of my family connected in Nansemond County Virginia, just across the James River from Jamestown. The part of that county my family settled was later deemed to be in the Carolina Colony, so we were really in North Carolina all along.
After the indentured servants earned their freedom, their sons went on to acquire land grants through military service during the revolution. Eventually, the main branches took grants in Edgecombe County, not far from where I was born, going on to be wealthy landowners themselves. The remaining branches moved from the coast into the heart of the Carolina Colony in the 1700s. The Harrells, Webbs, Dukes, Herndons, Daniels, Wests, Hunts, Masseys, Lees, Hollomons, Tomlinsons, Byroms, Mercers, Bradshaws, Worrells, Skinners, Wallers, and others in my family tree have been in the state of North Carolina since it was a colony, and that’s just the European branches. The Native Americans were there long before that.
I am sure many of you feel the way I do about the land of your birth. If you’ve read any of my novels, then you know how much I love my home state. I am proud to be from North Carolina. I live in Oklahoma now, but will retire back to the Old North State in a few years. Once that tar is on your heels, you can never wash it off. From the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina is a beautiful state with a proud heritage of being among the first in many categories. The first English colony was established on Roanoke Island, and though the fate of the colonists is unknown, it produced the first English child born in America. The first flight took place on the Outer Banks. The University of North Carolina was the first public university in the United States. Many people believe that North Carolina was the first state to declare independence from England with the Mecklenburg Declaration of 1775. North Carolina can be proud of these and many more accomplishments.
So, it is with immense pride in my homeland and the people who live there that I call for the citizens of North Carolina to be leaders, once again. Be the first Southern state to stand up for all your citizens. Amendment One is bad for North Carolina. Nothing good can come from changing the State Constitution to include language that excludes some citizens from basic protections under the law. I’m sure most of the people that read this blog will agree with me, but agreeing isn’t enough. Donate money, volunteer, or simply talk to your neighbors, family, and friends. Make sure you’ve done what you can to educate them on what this amendment would actually do. Encourage everyone to vote. No one can afford to stay home on Election Day. Every vote counts. It is my hope that North Carolina will once again lead the South away from the labels of ignorance and bigotry that so many expect from us Southerners. It is time for a new South, one that protects the human rights and dignity of all its citizens.
We are bound by our love of this great state, and in that bond we must find common ground. Open your hearts and minds North Carolinians, love one another, and dispense with this hatred and hypocrisy. Remember our forefathers came here to escape religious persecution and a social structure that denied rights to the common man. In search of these human rights the New World offered them, our ancestors built a country where all its citizens were equal under the law. Laws that deny these rights are against everything this country stands for. Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the new morning, when the citizens of this glorious state stand up together and say no more hate. On that day, the branches of my family tree will bloom with hope and confidence that North Carolina, once again, will stand for what is right and just. That tree may bend, but it will never break. I love you North Carolina. Make me proud.
Vote no on Amendment One.