Today marks Memorial Day, and as with many American traditions, there are competing histories of its origin.
Memorial Day is, of course, a long-established federal holiday dedicated to honouring America’s veterans who have died in service. It lands on the last Monday in May. It began its life as “Decoration Day” and it started following the Civil War, a war with more than 600,000 soldier casualities.
Later, it progressed to incorporate 20th century wars, such as the First and Second World War, Korean, Vietnam, and the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Biden is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan after a protracted US presence in the Middle Eastern nation.
Let everyone know the truth: Newly liberated Black people in Charleston created Memorial Day to honor Black soldiers for their courage and tenacity after they fought on the frontlines of the Civil War. pic.twitter.com/FTBCvrCh5U
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) May 31, 2021
One racial justice activist and lawyer spoke out on Twitter on Monday to assert that Memorial Day’s origins were not what most people thought, and nothing like what Gone With The Wind would have you believe.
“Let everyone know the truth: Newly liberated Black people in Charleston created Memorial Day to honor Black soldiers for their courage and tenacity after they fought on the frontlines of the Civil War,” wrote Ben Crump on Twitter.
According to a Pulitzer Prize-winning author exploring the life of Frederick Douglass, a former slave, thinker and rumoured friend of Abraham Lincoln, historian David. W Blight of Yale University, the origins of Memorial Day did indeed stem from Black veterans.
Blight spoke to History.com about his 1996 discovery about the role of Black soldiers in the genesis of the federal holiday.
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SOURCE: The Independent, Clara Hill