Mar 2, 2015

Three Centuries. The Importance of Telling the Story

Three Centuries of African-American Soldiers
Public awareness about the important military contributions of Africans in America, i.e., "blacks", in general,   is lacking. This is especially true about the period covering the country's formative years.

Educational institutions largely ignore this history; usually approaching it, when at all, in fragments and cliches. Why is so much emphasis placed on Crispus Attucks, whose only distinction is being killed in a protest, rather than Salem Poor, who bore arms? What's wrong with this picture?

Information reaches the general public sporadically through the media. Commercially, Hollywood produced Glory, and Red Tails. and TNT Buffalo Soldiers. PBS' "The African Americans" and "Slavery and the Making of America" touch upon portions of it. PBS also made a 5 minute clip,"Black Soldiers and Sailors in the War of 1812".

The institutional negligence  this military history helps to perpetuate stereo types and myths about black people, and impoverishes the rich story of our nations's development.

1 comment:

Pamela Neilson said...

I first learned about the First Rhode Island Regiment of Foot from the Revolutionary War series narrated by Charles Kuralt. When I was working as an elementary school librarian I taught a lesson about them to my fifth graders as an introduction to my Civil War research unit. Recently at the Yorktown National Battlefield I heard Jerome Bridges program where he portrays a member of the First Rhode Island. Here in Virginia at least, there are many opportunities for people to learn about the contributions of African-American soldiers and sailors in every war we have fought. Last fall Henrico Country held a weekend honoring the U.S.C.T. who fought at the Battle of New Market Heights and Harrison Ruffin Tyler, grandson of President John Tyler and owner of Fort Pocahontas, holds a reenactment of the battle where white and U.S.C.T. defeated Confederate calvary.