Veterans celebrate black soldiers

Commemorates 150th Anniversary of Civil War


Washington, DC ( — The National Veterans Coalition recently added a twist to the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War by honoring black participation in the iconic battle with a presentation on African American service and a screening of the blockbuster movie, “Glory.”

The event, held at the University of the District of Columbia, is part of ongoing community outreach by the Coalition to publicize African American military involvement. The group’s key focus is obtaining an honorary posthumous promotion of Col. Charles Young to Brigadier General. He was denied the honor because of the color of his skin and, at the time of his death in 1922, was the highest ranking black man in the US military.

“It’s vital to recognize the contributions of black soldiers in the defense of the nation; it’s a part of American history,” said Charles Blatcher, III, Chairman of the Veterans Coalition. He further stated: “Our goal in sponsoring this event is threefold. First, we are acknowledging the occasion of African American participation in the Civil War. Second, the occasion offered the opportunity to introduce or re-introduce the importance of learning the facts and preserving our history.”

“It is our intention to provide additional forums for our scholars and experts to bring the conversations to the community firsthand, just as we did in Washington, DC. Third, this occasion was appropriate in providing us the opportunity to publicly embrace the National Museum of African American History and Culture,” he continues. “Little known outside of the Washington, DC area, it is an institution with vast potential. It presents the history of Black America to the nation and the world. Hopefully, it will interface with public education to make available to schools throughout the nation supplemental materials which are a part of American History. We invite the public to become involved in supporting the development of that institution. We are requesting the institution to broaden its outreach to join us in presenting programs similar to this event across the nation, to cultivate community interest in this national project.”

The presentations were led by highly esteemed historians from the District’s top universities and a representative of the Capitol’s sole museum dedicated to the Civil War’s soldiers of color. The panel included: Hari Jones, Curator, African American Civil War Museum; Dr. Jennifer C. James, George Washington University; Dr. Maurice Jackson, Georgetown University; and, Dr. Sandra Jowers-Barber, University of the District of Columbia.

The Coalition, along with the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Brain Trust and the University of the District of Columbia, sponsored the event.

“One of the best-kept secrets in American history is the story of how Americans of African descent helped save the Union and freed themselves in the Civil War,” Mr. Jones said. He continues, “It is important that we know and understand this history in order for us to truly know and understand who we are as a people.”

Dr. Jennifer James furthered this point of view: “People of African descent have served in almost every conflict in North America from the 1600’s forward. All Americans should be aware of that long history of sacrifice.”

These patriots were eager to prove their valor, according to Georgetown’s Dr. Jackson. He retold the story, “…the cry had been long: ‘Give us the opportunity; show us a chance to climb to distinction, and we will show the world by our bravery what the Negro can do.'”

Dr. Jowers-Barber addressed the black soldiers’ courage. “They fought in every conflict prior to the Civil War and yet were still not considered worthy to be citizens. But when it came time to fight for their own freedom and save the Union they were ready and again distinguished themselves in the Civil War. Do not be misled; African American history is indeed American history.”

For further information, call (510) 467-9242 or e-mail Go to for photos. Senator Michael D. Brown, District of Columbia & Charles Blatcher, III, Chairman. See reference correspondence: National Museum of African American History and Culture & Kwane R. Brown, Chairman, City Council of the District of Columbia.