Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day started by Blacks in America





A celebration and burial of dead soldiers held by African-Americans on May 1, 1865 on a South Carolina burial ground was the first recorded Memorial Day, according to Yale University history professor David Blight. Blight says many Union soldiers were buried improperly in a burial ground that once was a race track. After the Civil War ended, many blacks returned to the grounds to give the fallen soldiers proper burials. “Blacks, many of them recently freed slaves, buried the soldiers properly. They put up a fence around the area and painted it. More than 260 were buried there. We don’t know the names. We don’t know the race,” Blight told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

African Americans Invented Memorial Day
Posted by JOE WINDISH, Technology Editor in Society, War
Click here for the original article

According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed by formerly enslaved black people at the Washington Race Course (today the location of Hampton Park) in Charleston, South Carolina. The race course had been used as a temporary Confederate prison camp in 1865 as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died there. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, formerly enslaved people exhumed the bodies from the mass grave and reinterred them properly with individual graves. They built a fence around the graveyard with an entry arch and declared it a Union graveyard. The work was completed in only ten days. On May 1, 1865, the Charleston newspaper reported that a crowd of up to ten thousand, mainly black residents, including 2800 children, proceeded to the location for included sermons, singing, and a picnic on the grounds, thereby creating the first "Decoration Day".

David W. Blight in his own words from The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877, lecture 19, To Appomattox and Beyond: The End of the War and a Search for Meanings:

African-Americans invented Memorial Day, in Charleston, South Carolina. There are three or four cities in the United States, North and South, that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day, but they all claim 1866; they were too late. I had the great, blind, good fortune to discover this story in a messy, totally disorganized collection of veterans’ papers at the Houghton Library at Harvard some years back. And what you have there is black Americans, recently freed from slavery, announcing to the world, with their flowers and their feet and their songs, what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a second American Revolution. That story got lost, it got lost for more than a century. And when I discovered it, I started calling people in Charleston that I knew in archives and libraries, including the Avery Institute, the black research center in Charleston–”Has anybody, have you ever heard of this story?” And no one had ever heard it. It showed the power of the Lost Cause in the wake of the war to erase a story. But I started looking for other sources, and lo and behold there were lots of sources. Harper’s Weekly even had a drawing of the cemetery in an 1867 issue. The old oval of that racetrack is still there today. If you ever go to Charleston go up to Hampton Park. Hampton Park is today what the racecourse was then. It’s named for Wade Hampton, the white supremacist, redeemer, and governor of South Carolina at the end of Reconstruction and a Confederate General during the Civil War. And that park sits immediately adjacent to the Citadel, the Military Academy of Charleston. On any given day you can see at any given time about 100 or 200 Citadel cadets jogging on the track of the old racecourse. There is no marker, there’s no memento, there’s only a little bit of a memory. Although a few years ago a friend of mine in Charleston organized a mock ceremony where we re-enacted that event, including the children’s choir, and they made me dress up in a top hat and a funny old nineteenth century suit and made me get up on a podium and make a stupid speech. But there is an effort, at least today, to declare Hampton Park a National Historic Landmark.


Buffalo Black Soldiers:

“Inside Buffalo” is an Award winning film documentary , Best Documentary at Black International Cinema Berlin 2009, about the untold history of the 92nd Buffalo Soldiers Division, the all African American segregated combat unit which fought during World War II in Italy. The Italian-Ghanaian director Fred Kuwornu has been inspired in producing and directing the first film work about the 92nd Division after his meeting with Spike Lee on the set of his film “Miracle at St. Anna “ shot in Italy where he worked as assistant. It’s the first film work about the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II told collocating the plot in the contest of the struggle for the Civil Rights and telling for the first time the untold friendship and bond built at the time between African American Soldiers and Italians. These 92nd veterans fought for many things, fueled by their love of freedom and their passion for their country. Many of them sacrificed their lives to buy freedom and civil rights for future generations. It is important that their work is never forgotten.


A narrator carries the program forward; historical photographs, documents and re-enactment footage illustrate the unique contributions of these men. These elements are complemented by interviews with contemporary African-American soldiers who served in World War II. Courtesy appearance by President Barack Obama . Texas Black Film Festival and Pan African Film Festival 2010 in Los Angeles has been officially selected the documentary. “Inside Buffalo” will be shown in New York and will be aired on Pentagon channel .The project will be on tour around the schools and colleges of US, inviting African-Americans 92nd WW II veterans in front of the eyes of the students to” make the history alive”!

The DVD, Inside Buffalo is available only in these days at the special offer 9.95 $ at http://www.insidebuffalo.org/ and at http://www.amazon.com/


Happy Memorial Day ! - An American form of African Libation

Ashee, ashee, ashee !

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