To the editor:
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources has long wanted a state historic site in Milton, featuring Free Person of Color Business Entrepreneurship. This project would acknowledge Thomas Day, respected Black/Mulatto craftsman, and his role in the N.C. furniture industry.
For a time, Thomas Day was the largest furniture producer in N.C. Today Caswell is an economically distressed county, according to the Department of Commerce. A grant toward making a historic site happen is in the Governor’s budget proposal.
While the Thomas Day House/Union Tavern is a museum to Day, I opened a museum in the 1860 Milton State Bank to tell the story of Milton, established in 1796 for tobacco and flour inspections, bustling with economic diversity. Recently, three African-American children visited, listened to the story of Milton, and heard about Thomas Day. Their eyes glimmered as they took the cabinet maker’s story to be theirs. He was their history. They pointed to furniture, “Did he make this?” Their history included more than being slaves.
A statue of Day stands at the entrance of the N.C. Museum of History. The man this statue represents deserves a site preserving his story and craftsmanship legacy. Will our legislators help us?