Annual Meeting and Social – March 4, 2018

If you missed it – You missed a great time!

On Sunday March 4, SkyView on Hay in Historic Downtown Fayetteville was the setting for a lively gathering of over 100 members of the Lafayette Society and guests for our 38th annual meeting. Special guests included 12 members of the Fayetteville State University Black History Club. Most attendees began arriving early to enjoy visiting with friends old and new, while sampling a variety of delicious “small plates” along with complimentary wine, mimosas, and iced tea. This new format was devised in 2017 after a survey of members showed the majority favored a shorter program, lighter fare, and more time to socialize.

Crowd shot of the annual Lafayette Society meeting

After a full hour of socializing while “noshing” on a variety of delicious small plates, guests settled in for a short program that included a performance and discussion of early American music by Simon Spalding from New Bern.


After Dr. Gail Morfesis led the attendees in a spirited singing of the American and the French national anthems, the program began with the introduction of board members elected in the past year (Ferd Irizarry, Rob Taber, and Weyher Dawson) and recognition of retiring board member Mithu Chaudhuri. Mithu and her husband Dr. Debi Chaudhuri are founding members of the Lafayette Society.

CSM Robert Teagle and his wife Christy (left), along with members of the FSU Black History Club and club president Douglas Ballard (center, in white suit), talk with professional musician Simon Spalding. He is showing one of several stringed instruments he played for the audience, a replica of the earliest known version of the banjo, which was developed in Africa and brought to this country by slaves.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the introduction of the The Medaille Lafayette, an award for leadership in the military developed by the Lafayette Society. This award was a 2-year project of the Finance and Grants Committee, whose members include Ferd Irizarry, Gwen Melton, Franklin Clark, and Hank Parfitt. Staff from the Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Ft. Bragg (Curtis Price, CSM Robert Teagle, and SGM James Putman) were honored for their invaluable service in helping bring this project to fruition. Ferd Irizarry, who acted as the liaison between Ft. Bragg and the Society, explained that the award is given to the top graduate of an intensive 3-week leadership course for Special Operations Forces. The leadership course is required for soldiers who are eligible for promotion to the rank of Master Sergeant or E-8, the second highest rank for noncommissioned officers.

Simon Spalding, a professional musician and historian from New Bern, entertained the crowd with a medley of songs that might have entertained Lafayette in France or here in this country, along with a running commentary about the history of that music. The audience even sang along during the refrain from an old sea shanty. Simon played authentic stringed instruments from the period, including a replica of the earliest known banjo, developed in Africa and brought by slaves to America.

Society members Linda McAlister and Jan Anderson visited with Simon after the annual meeting. Jan brought in an antique banjo that she had acquired in her many travels to show to Simon. He determined that it has the earmarks of an instrument made in the North Carolina mountains and estimated its age at over 100-years old.

The program concluded at 2:15pm, although many attendees lingered to visit with one another or with Simon Spalding.

If you haven’t renewed your membership for 2018 we encourage you to do so so that you can stay in touch and learn about the upcoming opportunities that give Lafayette Society members the chance to learn and socialize at the same time!

Members of the FSU Black History Club pose with Professor Rob Taber (left) and lecturer Diane Shaw (center). Club president Douglas Ballard and Lafayette Society president Hank Parfitt are on the right.

“I have been so long the friend of Emancipation” –
Lafayette, Slavery, and Human Rights

The Lafayette Society and the FSU Black History Club
host a presentation on Lafayette and slavery

The Lafayette Society has enjoyed a long relationship with Fayetteville’s Methodist University, where numerous Lafayette artifacts and mementos are housed. One year ago, the Society’s Board of Directors also expressed an interest in forging a relationship with Fayetteville State University (FSU). FSU is an HBCU (Historically Black College and University) that was founded in 1867. An ad hoc committee met with Dr. Rob Taber, a history professor at FSU whose specialty is the Atlantic slave trade and Colonial life in the French colonies. With Rob’s assistance, arrangements were made for the school’s Black History Club and the Lafayette Society to co-host Diane Shaw, Director for Special Collections and College Archives at Lafayette College, for a guest lecture.

Diane Shaw and Hank Parfitt with FSU students

Diane Shaw and FSU students talk history before lunch in the student center.

On Tuesday February 27 on the FSU campus, Ms. Shaw presented her lecture “I have been so long the friend of Emancipation”: Lafayette, Slavery, and Human Rights to members of the Black History Club, other FSU students and faculty, and members of the Lafayette Society. Ms. Shaw also joined about 10 members of the club for lunch in the school cafeteria, where the students eagerly plied her with numerous questions about a career in history education or library science. In turn, they told her about the club’s recent activities, including a project to coordinate an annual Black History Quiz Bowl for area high schools.

For the Lafayette Society, this was an excellent opportunity to reach a number of young people with a message about Lafayette’s place in history. The response by the students has been very positive and enthusiastic and more projects involving FSU are planned for the future. In fact, a dozen club members joined the Lafayette Society and attended our annual luncheon meeting a week after the lecture!

Our organization’s new relationship with FSU also opens the door to public discussion about Lafayette’s staunch opposition to slavery and other forms of human oppression. It will also provide an opportunity to educate the public about Lafayette’s purchase of a South American plantation and its slaves as part of a noble experiment to eliminate slavery. At a time when issues of race divide our nation, it is crucial that this history be told accurately and that we help people understand why Lafayette was a hero to the abolitionists long after his death.

Long-time Fayetteville Observer staff writer and columnist Myron Pitts wrote an article on Ms. Shaw’s presentation which appeared on March 1st. It is well worth the reading.

(To access the article, you can also type __Myron Pitts Lafayette__ into the search box at the Fayetteville Observer online, or copy and paste this URL into your browser:


2018 Lafayette Birthday Celebration

The 11th annual Lafayette Birthday Celebration will be held September 7th and 8th in downtown Fayetteville and other locations.

Click on the slide show below to learn more about some of our 2017 events!


Here’s what you missed if you didn’t attend any of the 2017 Lafayette Birthday events!

Arias and Artifacts at Methodist University

Davis Memorial Library at Methodist University will celebrate 50 years of the Lafayette Collection with a display of original letters written by Lafayette, along with ceramic pitchers and bowls, medals, snuff boxes, and other items manufactured in the early nineteenth-century to commemorate the hero’s celebrated visit to America. This was the forerunner of today’s “merchandizing” of rock stars and sports heroes. And speaking of that, Lafayette “Rock Concert” tee shirts will be available Saturday for purchase at the Festival of Yesteryear and at City Center Gallery & Books!

Returning for this year’s concert is international pianist Anastasia Bryant (shown below with piano), originally from Veronezh, Russia, where she taught at the Veronezh State Academy of Arts. Since moving to the United States, she has worked as an instructor and accompanist at Montclair State University in New Jersey and now teaches at Snyder Music Academy in Fayetteville.

A catered reception with French-themed foods begins at 5:30 pm in the library. A brief program by curator Arleen Fields follows at 6 pm. She will explain how the collection got started and talk about the back stories (and mysteries!) of some of the newest acquisitions. (There is no charge for the reception and program.)

The Arias segment of the evening, an hour-long concert featuring vocal and instrumental music by French composers, begins at 7:30 pm in the Hensdale Chapel next door to the library. As usual, classically-trained vocalist Dr. Gail Morfesis has assembled a stunning array of professional talent for the concert this year. Tickets are $10 and are available by calling 910-678-8899 or they may be purchased at the door.

Lafayette Trail Tour

200 years after Lafayette visited Fayetteville, you can follow in his footsteps on a narrated tour by Commander Bruce Daws of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry. During this unique historical experience, you will learn intriguing facts about the early history of Fayetteville and North Carolina and why Lafayette’s visit was the event of the century for our fair town!
The tour begins at the Museum of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry on Burgess Street downtown, where guests will enjoy a continental breakfast of coffee and croissants and get to see Lafayette’s carriage up-close! After touring the sites visited by the famous Frenchman, there will be a light lunch at a surprise historic site (think of it as a 19th-century “pop-up event!”). Guests will also receive a goodie bag, compliments of the Lafayette Society and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Due to space limitations, advance reservations are required. Tickets are only $30 and may be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books at 112 Hay Street or by calling 910-678-8899. Inquire about a reduced rate for teachers and students and active-duty military. There will be some walking but other portions of the tour will be on a comfortable air-conditioned bus.

The Lafayette Trail is an official Heritage Driving Trail of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Get a preview of your tour at

Historic Tours by Horse and Carriage

Sponsored by the Downtown Alliance every second Saturday of the month, this is a shorter (45-minute) tour that provides a great overview of Fayetteville’s 250-year history, with an emphasis on the Revolutionary War and Fayetteville’s “Golden Age” that followed. This will be a “specialty tour,” featuring a rare opportunity to visit inside Cool Spring Tavern. It was here that delegates from all over North Carolina stayed in 1789 when they met to ratify the United States Constitution, because Fayetteville was the State capital at the time. Your docent at Cool Spring will be Lulie Harry, whose family has owned this historic property since 1860.
Tickets for this tour are $25 and may be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books or by calling 910-678-8899. Tickets are $20 with a military ID and $15 for children under 12.

Festival of Yesteryear

Focusing on the Colonial and Revolutionary War periods, this program features re-enactors demonstrating various aspects of daily life of that era, including colonial medicine, crime and punishment, music, woodworking, tar making and naval stores, and militia drills. Living history groups include Camp Flintlock and the North Carolina Highland Regiment. There will be performances by the Tryon Palace Fife and Drum Corp, and Life as Art Productions: African Spirituals: Freedom Prayers. Be sure to visit Apprentice Alley, where children can participate and learn a variety of trades through hands-on crafts and activities. At 2PM, there will be a birthday cake and ice cream party to help celebrate Lafayette’s 260th birthday – free while it lasts! Food and snacks will also be available for purchase. FREE ADMISSION. The Museum of the Cape Fear is located at 801 Arsenal Avenue in Haymount. For more information, visit

Market House Exhibit “Lafayette in Fayetteville – 1825”

Invited by President James Monroe as “The Nation’s Guest,” Lafayette toured all 23 states of the Union from 1824 to 1825. It was a tremendous honor for Fayetteville, North Carolina, when Lafayette visited this fair city on March 4th and 5th of 1825. Citizens and city fathers went “all out” for the celebration and they haven’t stopped celebrating since! Come see a display about the various ways that Fayetteville has remembered its famous namesake then and now.

The circa 1832 Market House is one of only 40 buildings in the entire state of North Carolina to be designated as a National Landmark. The State House, built in 1788, stood on this site when Fayetteville was the Capitol. Lafayette spoke to the adoring crowds from its east balcony in 1825. Come upstairs to the second floor and explore the exhibit between 10am and 4pm.

Lafayette Birthday Sidewalk Sale

The shops in Historic Downtown offer THE most unique shopping options to be found anywhere in Fayetteville. The merchants are celebrating Lafayette’s birthday by offering some really great deals on the sidewalk or inside their stores. Look for the French flags!

While shopping downtown for great bargains at the Lafayette Birthday Sidewalk Sale, keep an eye out for roving musicians like this Parisian accordion player or the Amazing Thiriot Family.

The Lafayette Escadrille in World War One

Even before the United States entered WWI, a number of young men left for France between 1915 and 1917 to join the fight against Germany. Some fought as airmen in the Lafayette Escadrille, patrolling the skies over the French and German lines and engaging with the enemy in aerial combat. At 7 pm, City Center Gallery & Books will host a presentation on the history of the men and planes of the Lafayette Escadrille by Mike Ariano. Mike spent almost 15 years in the US Army on active duty and with the National Guard, deployed three times to Iraq, once with the 82nd Airborne Division, and recently to Kosovo with the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, one of only six Armored Brigades in the National Guard. Mike has his pilot’s license and is the creator and curator of the Airman’s Aviation Garage Museum, which displays a series of model airplanes from WWI to the present along with detailed information on each one.

Admission is FREE but seating is limited. City Center Gallery & Books is located at 112 Hay Street. Plan to drop by the Wine Café just 4 doors down for the French wine tasting before or after the presentation!

French Wine Tasting

After a full day of history and fun, drop into The Wine Café and take a trip to France by way of her wines! Owner Angie Malave will host a free tasting with a guest expert to explain the characteristics of wines from different regions of France. After your virtual tour of France through the wine stations, and after you have identified your favorites, take a couple of bottles home with you. Remember, French wines are actually very affordable –and they are the real thing! Also, ask about store discounts when you buy a six-pack or a case!

There is no admission charge and no reservations are required, but come early because this popular event always fills up fast. This is a guaranteed evening of fun in Historic Downtown! The Wine Café is located at 108 Hay Street across from the Market House.

Thank You to All of Our Sponsors:

Lura S. Tally Center for Leadership Development at Methodist University

Morgan Stanley