Black soldiers’ impact honored

Published 10:40 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Faya Rose Toure, founder and president of the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum, along with Sam Walker, talk about the impact thousands of black soldiers had on the Civil War while serving for the United States. -- Rick Couch

Tuesday marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War and for the next five years the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum will honor the hundreds of black soldiers who helped to win the war against the South.

The museum held a press conference Tuesday to inform the public about the involvement black soldiers, especially from Alabama, had in the war through seminars, new exhibits and films.

“Every Thursday at 5 p.m. we will have public showings of the documentary ‘Sherman’s Last March,’ ‘Gettysburg,’ ‘Glory’ with Denzel Washington and ‘Secrets of the Civil War,’ said Faya Rose Toure, founder and president of museum. “The Confederates lost the war and it’s time for teachers, ministers and children to recognize the North won.”

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The African-American Civil War Memorial and Museum in Washington D.C., also commemorated the war through re-enactments and selected readings from Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass Tuesday. Opened in 1999, and spearheaded by historian Frank Smith, the museum owns a 10-foot tall bronze sculpture with the names of 209,145 black soldiers and officers who were a part of the Bureau of United States Color Troops engraved in its bust.

Created by Kentucky-native Ed Hamilton, the “Wall of Honor,” which also depicts uniformed soldiers ready to leave home, is the first major piece of art by a black sculptor to rest on federal land.

Toure said she doesn’t want to focus on the violence and devastation the war caused.

“African-Americans must recognize this important moment in history,” Toure said. “We want to resolve the racial and political conflicts and focus on the history. African-Americans contributed greatly to society.”

The Rev. Franklin Fortier believes an accurate portrayal of what happened during the war is necessary.

“We want to stop hiding behind a myth,” Fortier said. “The Civil War was not about state’s rights but holding on to slavery. We’re excited about the new tours and exhibits coming that will detail these events.”

The names of the black soldiers, Toure said, are listed in a descendant’s registry and available for viewing at the museum.

“We want to encourage people to find their ancestry and learn about it,” Toure said. “You never know, maybe you’ll find that one of your family members fought in the Civil War.”

Smith will give a lecture series on black soldiers’ role in the war on April 28 at 6 p.m. inside the Hank Sanders Technology Building. For more information on the lecture and the Civil War events call 526-2626.

The first movie showing will begin today at 5 p.m.