Lane Street Project: in hope of brighter days.

Rev. H. Maurice Barnes, Rev. Carlton Best, and I held a productive, cathartic meeting with Mayor Carlton Stevens and Councilmember Gillettia Morgan yesterday morning. It was the first of what I anticipate will be many conversations, and I look forward to working together for a better future for Vick Cemetery and the dead lying within it.

I sent this email to the mayor and council back in May. The offer stands for all.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2023.


  1. Indeed. “In Hope of Brighter Days” and “productive and cathartic” are all telling words. Is Ms Morgan perhaps being moved to give deeper consideration of the overall needs here than she has expressed publicly? And the Mayor? Is it too early to consider this conversation to be the beginning notes of the city’s joining to “formalize” a process as we pleaded in our last presentation to council? Was our presentation a topic of your discussion? With an eye to moving forward was any sort of schedule or process outlined and were any tasks volunteered or assigned?

    So if and when conversations and negotiations between the “descendent community advisory board“ and the council, the city staff, and so on, as we have pleaded for, do take place .. who will be at the table? Can such conversations and negotiations be made the public? And how might the public remain involved? I see an evolving braintrust here that can help see to it that no stone is left unturned (excuse my terrible analogy!) in planning comprehensive and uplifting approaches to this effort of restoration and the memorialization of these lives lived, these sacred spaces, and these beautiful Wilson NC souls.

    Finally .. in consideration of this development is it fair that we openly question the Mayor and Councilwoman at their upcoming candidate forums (Councilwoman Morgan’s District 1 forum has been moved up to tonight at 7pm) as to their own roles and vision for moving the process and project forward?


    1. As noted, the meeting was a good one. The Mayor reached out to one of the participants (not me) to request the meeting. It was largely focused on providing background, dispelling misconceptions, and answering questions about the bullet points set out in LSP’s September 21 letter to council, including reiterating the long journey that restoration of Vick will likely require. I urged the City to view the process as an opportunity rather than a burden and emphasized that we are determined, but not adversarial. The meeting was informational only. Accordingly, no agreements were proposed or made, and many of the questions you raise here cannot yet be answered. Vick Cemetery is always, in my opinion, an appropriate subject for candidates.

  2. Tonight’s candidates’ forum was informative. Ms Morgan’s responses re Vick Cemetery and other topics were mostly in defense of her own and past council actions .. while the two challengers present both showed knowledge of and and sensitivity to citizens’ outcries on Vick Cemetery and other topics. I was told that a video of the forum would be posted on Youtube but did not find out exactly where to look for that.

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