The North Carolina Board of Transportation Thursday adopted a resolution which will name a portion of Interstate 95 from the Virginia state line to Exit 173 at Highway 158 in Halifax County the Congressman G.K. Butterfield Highway.
The resolution notes that the residents of Halifax and Northampton counties elected Butterfield to be their federal representative in nine consecutive elections and that the Halifax County Board of Commissioners supports the designation of a highway in his honor.
“Butterfield was elected to the United States House of Representatives to represent the first congressional district in 2004 and was a staunch advocate for his constituents, placing particular emphasis on securing federal appropriations for Halifax and Northampton counties,” the resolution says.
In the gallery: Bryant and Butterfield and a copy of the resolution
Butterfield told the board, “I am grateful for this day — a day that would have been unimaginable when I began my public service. I’m truly grateful. It is especially fitting this reading takes place on the anniversary of the launch of the modern-day civil rights movement.”
Thursday was the anniversary of the Greensboro lunch counter sit-in on February 1, 1960.
In explaining his Northampton and Halifax county connections Butterfield said his mother began her teaching career in Northampton at the Rosenwald School in Gumberry in 1922.
In 1926, my mother’s sister married a Halifax County preacher who for 64 years pastored four churches in Northampton and Halifax counties — Mt. Zion in Seaboard, Cool Spring in Gaston, and Daniel Chapel Baptist Church and St. Paul Baptist Church both in Enfield.
His mother’s sister became a classroom teacher at historic Inborden School in Enfield for decades. “They had no children. I was their child,” he said.
His mother’s brother was the principal at Halifax County Training School, which was later known as Ralph Bunch School in Weldon.
“As a young lawyer, I represented many clients in both counties. And I was counsel in the historic Johnson v. County of Halifax voting rights case that resulted in the creation of single member districts for the board of commissioners,” he said. “As judge, I presided over superior court in these two counties literally hundreds of times over my 15-year career.”
He said in 2004 voters in these counties in large numbers “voted to send me to Washington where I remained for 18 long years. It was my joy to represent these counties and bring millions of dollars into their communities. I am especially proud of the community project funding I secured for the construction of the Northampton County Courthouse. This money joined with state money secured by Representative Michael Wray.”
He said he recalled convincing USDA to reprogram money that was due to lapse and send this money to Northampton County to construct the Cultural Center in Jackson. “Across the river, I’m very proud of Halifax Community College and the dollars I was able to send their way. I thank the chairs of the two boards — Honorable Charles Tyner and Honorable Vernon Bryant for supporting the naming of 8.55 miles of their interstate in my honor.”
In closing his remarks, Butterfield said, “I’m proud of my state for many reasons. Our transportation system is one of the best in the nation. When you drive around the state in Rocky Mount and Fayetteville and Greensboro you are making major investments in our highways and bridges and other modes of transportation. You are to be commended for your vision for the future.”