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sheshe2

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Member since: Sat Oct 13, 2012, 08:33 PM
Number of posts: 51,185

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The First Decoration Day

Article. By David W. Blight. 2011.
The people’s history of Memorial Day.

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Memorial Day, originally published in the New York Times. Used here with permission of the artist Owen Freeman. (Click photo for artist’s website.)

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 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 Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”

At 9 a.m. 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 gathering 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. No record survives of which biblical passages rung out in the warm spring air, but the spirit of Leviticus 25 was surely present at those burial rites: “for it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you… in the year of this jubilee he shall return every man unto his own possession.”

snip

Over time several American towns, north and south, claimed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. But all of them commemorate cemetery decoration events from 1866. Pride of place as the first large scale ritual of Decoration Day, therefore, goes to African Americans in Charleston. By their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of flowers and marching feet on their former owners’ race course, they created for themselves, and for us, the Independence Day of the Second American Revolution.



http://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-first-decoration-day/

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Whitewashed.



This I do know.

I will not sit down and I will not shut up.

I have nieces and nephews also four great niece and nephews. I will do anything to make this a better place for them. The two of them are incredibly strong, talented and beautiful women. I would die for them if need be. Actually, when the eldest was two, she fell to the concrete floor, following my sister up from the laundry room. She had her doll in her arms, her name was" super baby". When I saw her with her leg strapped to a board, intravenous lines attached, unresponsive and bruised, I prayed. Yes, it is not something I do anymore, yet that day I did. I was twenty six. I prayed I go in her place, she was only two and I had already had twenty six years. She survived.

There is so much talk here that we need to focus on economic justice and push social justice behind us for now. I have been told this! I say to hell with that 'cause one without the other is meaningless. This cannot be trickle down for for social justice. Trickle down has never worked. You know that! Stop pushing it.

I will vote in every damn election, for my candidate or not if they lose. I will always vote for the Democratic candidate. Always. Never a write in.

Some believe I am a stupid Bogger, the most loathed group at DU, that is okay. I know I am not. Hell yes, I am going to enjoy the time remaining. He and his family have brought dignity and grace to our White House.

There have been times in my life where I learned your life can change on a dime. So, you know, I cannot and will not live my short life on earth in misery and despair. I have known it, not going to dwell in a dark place.

Yes, silly me. I have hope.

You must remember this. Never forget where we were.



Yup, I know. It is all Obama's fault. All of it. It always has been. If you listen to some , you would believe he crashed the economy on his own. He created NSA. He is worse than Bush. He is Republican lite. Dear Gawd. Some here elected him or so they say. Then you left him without back up.

I have to ask, what "Republican Lite" would support Gay marriage? Then support a woman's right to chose and her equal pay? Would they be supporting voting rights? Civil rights? Gun laws? Obamacare? You are lying to yourself and the rest of us by saying this. Shame on you!

It is always so much easier to place the blame elsewhere and never take any responsibility yourself.

Selective memories at times. He never once said Yes I Can. He said Yes WE Can. We, collectively, must stand up and be heard. Everyday we should be fighting tooth and nail for what we believe in.

I for one will not stop until I am 6 feet under.

If your only goal is to get to the top of the page, keep on bashing. It is a proven theory here. I have been told by someone that it works for them, sadly it does.

Thanks for this CTyankee~

I underestimated the amount of racial bigotry we still have in this country and admire him for being so strong.
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