Georgia State Daughters Of The Confederacy Inducts First Black Member
You might ask why would a black woman would want to be part of a group that celebrates the Confederacy. But Georgia Benton was recently inducted into the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). And in doing so, she became not the first African-American member in the Savannah chapter, but she’s also the first in the state of Georgia.
“A lot of people when they hear the word ‘Confederate,’ they run,” Savannah Chapter 2 President Elizabeth Piechocinski told The Post Courier. “But what they don’t realize is that there were a large number of African-Americans who served in the Confederacy. Some were musicians or body servants, but some also fought.”
To become a member you must have a relative who fought for the Confederacy against the Union. Benton’s great-grandfather, George W. Washington, was a slave in Sumter County, S.C., who went to war as the body servant of Lt. Alex McQueen of the Confederacy. The two served in a number of battles together, including the Battle of Sharpsburg and the Battle of Gettysburg.
According to Benton, her grandmother had passed down stories of Washington and his service during the war and she also had a lot of the documents and information needed to apply to joining the UDC.
“I thought, ‘Wait a minute, I deserve the same right to be a part of a group who are honoring their forefathers,”‘ said Benton. “Very little is known about black Confederate soldiers, so if I can be a starting point in letting the world know the history and making them aware that African-Americans have fought in every war in history, then I’m proud to stand up for my great-grandfather. … I’m standing here with honor and pride.”
In all, it took Benton about two months to gather the documents needed to trace her family lineage since there aren’t a lot of enlistment records for African-American Confederate soldiers. Benton says she joined because she believes that she can help enhance the organization with her knowledge of African-American soldiers’ roles in the Civil War.
“My son tells me I’m a trailblazer, because I was also involved in the community civil rights movement in Port Wentworth. So, trailblazing, making a difference, I guess it’s in my blood. It’s just something that you do,” Benton told the paper.
Earlier this year, Autier Allen-Craft, who is the first African-American member of the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution, took a leadership role in the organization. Allen-Craft was inducted as Chapter Regent, the second African American to become Regent in Connecticut, reports The Grio. Gloria Williams is the only other African-American member of the Connecticut DAR.