The Ballad Of Junius Wilson (Masterless Men) video
#2198: YouTube video by oldirishladdie
℗2010 ~ Used with permission ~

Take yourself back to the mid-nineteen twenties,
When freedom was blinded by colour;
Reminisce, close your eyes,
see violence and plenty,
'Cause freedom was blinded by colour.

From all over the world stories have come,
Of men blinded by colour;
Freedom lost, man was torn,
justice thrown by the wayside,
For men and for their colour.

I ask this of you,
Aren't we all the same?
Colour and speech shouldn't dictate to me,
The way we look at each other.

Stop for a moment, think of the past,
Maybe you'll find all the answers;
If you can't don't despair,
there's time on ahead,
When all solutions are clearer.

He spent all those years alone in a prison,
Freed at the age of ninety-six;
Junius Wilson is old now,
and there 'cause he wants to,
Now blinded by sunlight.

They say,
He's been gone;
Stares at his new world,
Wishes he had time to start again.

And I ask this of you,
Aren't we all the same?
Colour and speech shouldn't dictate to me,
The way we look at each other.

####.... John Curran of Ferryland, NL, founder of the Masterless Men ....####
Recorded by Masterless Men (Breakin' New Ground, trk#8, 1995 CD, Independent, produced and engineered by Gary O'Driscoll and recorded at First City Productions).

See more by The Masterless Men.

From Wikipedia:
Junius Wilson - born in 1908 in North Carolina and grew up near Wilmington. In 1916 he was sent to the North Carolina School for the Colored Deaf and the Blind, a segregated state school in Raleigh that was the first southern school for black deaf children. Since this was a segregated school, students there were not given the resources of other schools. They were not taught American Sign Language and developed their own system of communication. This worked within the institution, but because it was their own, it did not travel, and so students and deaf from other schools were unable to understand them.

Wilson stayed there for six years, learning rudimentary sign language, until a minor infraction lead to his expulsion. While at home in Castle Hayne, Wilson came to the attention of the legal system when he was accused of the attempted rape of a relative. It is unclear whether the charge had merit - biographers speculated that his misunderstood behavior stemming from communication difficulties may have led to the situation - but what is not in doubt is that in 1925 Wilson was declared legally insane by a court and committed to the state Hospital for the Colored Insane in Goldsboro, NC, which became Cherry Hospital in 1959. In 1932 he was surgically castrated under the provisions of the eugenics laws in place.

Wilson would remain committed to the state facility for decades. In 1990, he was given a new social worker, John Wasson, who came to find out that not only was Wilson not mentally disabled, but that the hospital staff had known for years that he was not. To compound the situation, the legal charges against Wilson dating back to 1925 had been dismissed in 1970; put bluntly, for twenty years he had been committed to the hospital without legal justification. In interviews with hospital staff, Wasson found that it had been considered the most 'benevolent' course of action, since Wilson was thoroughly institutionalized at that point, with many of the same difficulties in learning and communication that had been his burden since birth.

Wasson instigated the legal challenge to Wilson's incarceration. In 1992 Wilson was formally declared a free man. Since he had no close relatives or family members able to care for him in his advanced age, a cottage was found for him on the grounds of Cherry Hospital. Wilson would live there until his death in 2001.


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