All Articles Tagged "confederate history"
On Monday, the nation will pause to honor those courageous men and women who have served and gave their lives all in the spirit of patriotism. But did you know that African Americans were the first to celebrate our fallen soldiers?
According to Black America Web, Yale University history professor David Blight says that blacks in Charleston, South Carolina launched the first Decoration Day, in which they decorate the graves of dead soldiers, in honor of the Union’s war dead on May 1, 1865.
“That ceremony on May 1, 1865 was actually the first recorded Decoration Day or Memorial Day,” said Blight.
Fifteen years ago, Blight was in a Harvard University library doing research for his book, “Reunion and Race,” when he came across a box of unorganized papers of a Union veterans’ organization and a folder labeled “First Decoration Day.”
The information contained in that folder led Blight to South Carolina and the former Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, a once prestigious horse racing track that became a prison for Union soldiers during the Civil War. Blight said many soldiers died there, but were not properly buried.
Following the Confederate surrender ending the Civil War, blacks went to the place where hundreds of prisoners had been buried, many in mass graves. Those blacks, many of which were recently freed slaves, gave the soldiers a proper burial, explained Blight. Following the burials, there was a ceremony.
“They put up a fence around the area and painted it,” he said. “More than 260 were buried there. We don’t know the names. We don’t know the race.”
Blight admits that finding an account of the celebration was difficult at first.
“That shows that some parts of history can be lost, depending on who is in control,” Blight said. “You have to realize that the white Democrats in South Carolina soon returned to power. The Republicans were out of office. The blacks were out of office. Southerners did not want to remember the war, especially through an event such as this.”
Though this news surely won’t have any affect on how Memorial Day is celebrated, it’s still a nice history lesson to take in, seeing as how all the contributions blacks have made to this country are consistently overlooked.
By B. Hutson
Teaching and being sensitive to race in the classroom is a challenging situation on its own, but for some reason that is beyond comprehension, a fourth grade teacher in Norfolk, VA decided the best way to make a lesson on the Civil War interesting was by turning her classroom into a slave auction.
According to the Washington Post, the mock auction occurred on April 1 when the teacher, Jessica Boyle, ordered black and mixed students to one side of the classroom, and then white students took turns buying them. While its bad enough the psychological effect that this lesson most likely had on the black and mixed students (that they are worth less compared to their white classmates), lessons on the Civil War have long been sensitive in Virginia classrooms considering that some of the Confederacy’s most bloodiest battles took place in the state.
Ironically enough, this “lesson” occurred in an elementary school named for one of Virginia’s earliest Civil War battles, the Battle of Sewells Point, which was fought near campus grounds, reports the Post.
Rightfully so, parents complained to the principal of Sewells Point, Mary B. Wrushen, who acknowledged that Boyle had gone too far. In a letter to the parents of the students in Boyle’s class, the Virginian-Pilot reports that Wrushen wrote, “Although [Boyle’s] actions were well intended to meet the instructional objectives, the activity presented was inappropriate for the students. The lesson could have been thought through more carefully, as to not offend her students or put them in an uncomfortable situation.”
School board chairman Kirk Houston told the Virginian-Pilot that he had no knowledge of the auction and that it is “extremely disturbing” to him. “Mock slave auctions involving children are absolutely unacceptable in a classroom. At this point this is a personnel matter, and the School Board will monitor its outcome,” he said.
(CNN) – An African-American Virginia lawmaker said Wednesday that he is not yet ready to accept an apology from Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, suggesting McDonnell’s misstep regarding Virginia’s confederate history is part of a pattern which calls the governor’s sincerity into question.
The Republican governor apologized earlier Wednesday after coming under criticism for issuing a proclamation that declared April to be Confederate History Month in the state but which made no mention of slavery.