Did you know the very 1st “Memorial Day” was celebrated by Blacks May 1, 1865 in Charleston, South Carolina according to recent research uncovered by Yale professor of History David Blight
Prof. Blight highlights that what we now call Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day.” This day of rememberance of those who died in War was actually created by formerly enslaved Blacks grateful for the sacrifice of Union Soldiers who died as POWs in Charleston’s Confederatecy prison camp.
The White POWs were mis-treated and given undignified burials by their Confederate jailers. So, upon the surrender of Charleston by the Confederate army, the Blacks provided a proper burial for the POWs who helped secure their freedom from the bondage of chattel slavery.
The Charleston Blacks decorated the graves of the White Union Soldiers with fresh flowers, held a massive parade, and a jubilant picnic celebration that included food, dancing, speeches, and music.
So, as you enjoy your Memorial Day favorites (like BBQ, hanging at the beach, or watching baseball) and remember the brave men and women of our military and your love ones. Don’t forget to also remeber those grateful African-Americans whose compassion started this great holiday.
Happy Memorial Day to you and yours and always remeber “Black History IS World History” In other words, no matter our gender, race, or station we all have and continue to have something of value to contribute to our collective pursuit of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness!
Damario Solomon-Simmons, Esq., M.Ed., is an attorney with RiggsAbney law firm and an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. He is proud that men and women in his family have participated in almost every major U.S. military war since 1832, including his great grandfather Granville W. Ransom who served in WWI listed erroneously as Caucasian due to his light complexion and blue eyes and his father who served two tours in Vietnam. Damario can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.solomonsimmons.com.