Today’s celebration of Memorial Day, recognizes dead soldiers and in particular, those who were in combat when they served. Yet, Memorial Day origins actually trace themselves back to formerly enslaved and free Blacks in Charleston, South Carolina who honored Black Civil War soldiers buried in disgrace.
Thousands of Blacks fought or helped in a number of subversive actions in the Civil War, but have never been formally recognized. In particular, Blacks in the service industry who provided critical intelligence to the Union Army. Here are some Blacks who contributed tremendously.
In 2013, construction workers in Charleston unearthed the remains of 36 enslaved Black people. Six years later, the Gullah Society will hold a processional and ceremony to re-inter the bones of some of the city’s earlier residents.