#Roommates, did you know that Memorial Day is actually a part of Black history? That’s right, just like many other things in this country, we have our ancestors to thank for starting the holiday, which remembers people who’ve died while serving the United States of America.
According to David W. Blight, a Civil War historian at Yale University, on May 1, 1865 thousands of former slaves and other African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina came together to honor Union soldiers and give them a proper burial. The Washington Post reports that many of these soliders were held as prisoners of war at a racetrack and their bodies were discarded in a mass grave.
In the first known Memorial Day parade, black schoolchildren, soldiers and freed slaves all gathered together to honor those brave brothers and sisters. They covered their graves with flowers and sang patriotic songs.
“They were themselves the true patriots,” Blight wrote, before adding that most newspaper coverage of the event “was suppressed by white Charlestonians in favor of their own version of the day.”
“From 1876 on, after white Democrats took back control of South Carolina politics and the Lost Cause defined public memory and race relations, the day’s racecourse origin vanished,” he shared.
David W. Blight, who is also the director of Yale’s Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, is responsible for bringing this little-known black history fact to the masses.
TSR STAFF: Myeisha E.! @myeisha.essex