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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

Re: Current News about the Civil War

Hi Robert:

Mr. Coates' article was also discussed on Bennie McRae's Facebook webpage. I echo your criticism when you wrote, “Coates doesn't acknowledge black people like folks on AfriGeneas for doing the work of research without much if any fanfare.”

But the blame is not always the fault of white historians and confederate cheerleaders. It’s also with us.

Please read my posting below.

Hi Bennie:

You've already posted some of my questions about the early regiments/ black soldiers in the Union Army. When Cheryl wrote about the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, it reminded me of Cheryl's and your book launch that I organized at the Avery Research Center in Charleston. The book highlighted the story of the 1st South Carolina in a city where some either forget their valor or vaguely remembers "Denzel's" Regiment as THE only black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

I'm a fan of author Ta-Nehisi Coates and enjoyed reading his article on why Blacks don't study the Civil War. He places the blame squarely on the romantic histories of Confederates in the Civil War that continue to overshadow our military contribution. But he doesn’t explain the very tragic ignorance in the African American consciousness about our strategic importance in this war.

Bennie, you call them “Freedom Fighters.” But what about black Americans who continue to conjure up the one dimensional passive slave waiting at the gates of Tara to be liberated by Denzel regiment? What about the endless search for that elusive African warrior and the minions of griots and princes that blacks want to embrace as an ancestor? Instead they leap over our American military history, push aside or just ignore a more recent and well-documented history of Blacks in the Civil War.

However it isn't until Ta-Nehisi Coates' last paragraph that he urges Blacks: "The Civil War confers on us the most terrible burden of all—the burden of moving from protest to production, the burden of summoning our own departed hands, so that they, too, may leave a mark."

What Mr. Coates may not know is that historians like you, Bennie, have been researching our Civil War history for decades. Family historians have followed your example. Your scholarship helped to support my research on my ancestors in the Corps D’Afrique. I discussed your body of work at my presentation on the history of the Corps D’Afrique at a recent DAR meeting. It’s amazing how much of the history of the Corps D’Afrique can be found beyond internet postings! Don’t be surprised if some contact you!

Kathleen Wyer Lane


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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