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*Junius Wilson was born on this date in 1897. He was a Black Deaf laborer.
He was born in New Hanover County, NC. His home was in Castle Hayne in the northern part of the county near the Pender County line. Wilson was the son of Sidney Wilson and Mary Foy. he had a brother, Asynia, and a Carrie. For eight years, he was a student at the North Carolina School for the Colored Blind and Deaf.
Black and deaf, Wilson was 28 years old when he was charged with assault with intent to rape in 1925. He was declared insane and sent to North Carolina's Mental Hospital for blacks (now known as Cherry Hospital) in Goldsboro, NC. Following Eugenics fervor rampant then, Asylum staff castrated and sterilized Wilson. For decades, he worked on the hospital's Colony Farm as a "water boy" and then in the car wash.
His case came to outsiders' attention, and many advocates worked on Wilson's behalf. He eventually received a financial settlement and was allowed to spend the remainder of his days as a voluntary patient in a cottage on the hospital grounds. Decades later, the charges were dropped, but Wilson remained in a locked ward. At age 96, Wilson was finally moved into his first real home in 68 years. After the move, Mr. Wilson's guardian, John Wasson, an assistant director at the New Hanover County Department of Social Services, expressed relief. Mr. Wasson said of Wilson, "My biggest fear was that he was going to die before getting into that cottage."
Wilson spent 76 years at a state mental hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina, including 6 in the criminal ward. He had never been declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charge. But he was deaf and Black in the Jim Crow South. Unspeakable is the story of his life. In addition to offering a bottom-up history of life in a segregated mental institution, Burch and Joyner's biography also enriches the traditional interpretation of Jim Crow by highlighting the complicated intersections of race and disability as well as community and language.
Junius Wilson died in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on March 17, 2001.