The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 20, 2012

To The Editor

C. Rudolph Knight

TARBORO — To the Editor:

A recent news story about the Montford Marines honors the important and too-often forgotten group of men. However, some of the statements in the story were wrong and need correction.

First, some background: In July 2004, The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc. was incorporated by 15 citizens of Edgecombe County, surrounding communities and neighboring states with, as its stated primary purpose and goal, “to recover, record and promote the unique history of Edgecombe County as experienced by members of its African-American community.”

The first president, Helen G. Quigless, Jr., was mostly inactive during her tenure because of illness, and she soon died. After her untimely death, I assumed the position of acting president and was, then, elected president. Under my leadership, the organization published and distributed historical documents and information about our African-American community, society and history; sponsored programs and seminars of interest; participated in many community and educational events; and made the African-American experience a focus for everyone in our community during its five years of existence. One recognition of our work of which I am particularly proud was our receiving the Newsome Award in 2008 from the North Carolina Federation of Historical Societies.

After a period of declining participation and extremely low membership, the duly elected board of directors voted in July 2009 to dissolve the non-profit corporation. Thus, The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc. ceased to exist at that time.

Since then, news reports have referred to what purports to be a successor organization. This wholly different group uses the name “The Phoenix Historical Society.”

Those of us who founded and worked to promote The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc. would like to set the record straight and inform the community that the non-profit organization we organized is no more. Anyone and any organization using a name which includes “The Phoenix Historical Society” or “The Phoenix Society” has no legitimate relationship with The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc. other than a rejection of the decision to dissolve the organization. Neither I, nor most of the incorporators and board members of the former organization are associated in any way with the current group.

While the original organization has ceased to be an active institution, many of its founders continue to be extremely interested in researching and educating the public about the rich history and culture of African-Americans in our community.

C. Rudolph Knight