Just a little something I found this morning while searching the net. This was an article posted last year on this blog called “Stuff White People Do…”! This is a DOPE blog. Putting me up on some ish! FANGGGGGGGGGG! PEEP!!

“Stuff White People Do… “

forget the Black origins of Memorial Day!

Today is “Memorial Day,” the day on which (some) people in the United States remember and honor their war dead. What few white Americans realize is a bit of whitewashed history — the first such celebration was initiated and carried out by black people.

Thousands of freed slaves gathered to honor fallen soldiers for the first time at the end of the U.S. Civil War, in 1865. Several American towns have since claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, but they each trace their claims back to a later date, 1866.

Historian David Blight tells the story:

After a long siege, a prolonged bombardment for months from all around the harbor, and numerous fires, the beautiful port city of Charleston, South Carolina, where the war had begun in April, 1861, lay in ruin by the spring of 1865. The city was largely abandoned by white residents by late February. Among the first troops to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the Twenty First U. S. Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the formal surrender of the city.

Thousands of black Charlestonians, most former slaves, remained in the city and conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war. The largest of these events, and unknown until some extraordinary luck in my recent research, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the planters’ horse track, the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club, into an outdoor prison. Union soldiers were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of exposure and disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand. Some twenty-eight black workmen went to the site, re-buried the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

Then, black Charlestonians in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged an unforgettable [sic] parade of 10,000 people on the slaveholders’ race course. The symbolic power of the low-country planter aristocracy’s horse track (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. A New York Tribunecorrespondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

At 9 am on May 1, the procession stepped off led by three thousand black schoolchildren carrying arm loads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by several hundred black women with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantry and other black and white citizens. As many as possible gathered in the cemetery enclosure; a childrens’ choir sang “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several spirituals before several black ministers read from scripture. . . .

– You can read the rest of the article HERE

– As well as the original Article by David Blight HERE

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