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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 02/18/2011

The Civil War and Black History

By Linda Wheeler

Black History Month this year combines an annual celebration of African American history with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. This has undoubtedly created a new audience for black history events by drawing students of the war to plays, concerts, lectures and tours they might not have attended in the past. Lots of events have already occurred but there is still much to come in Port Columbus, Ga., Baltimore, Md., Washington D.C., Franklin, Tenn. and Alexandria, Va., among other places.

On Feb. 19 and 20, the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus presents a theatrical performance featuring actors playing three African Americans involved in the battle of the USS Water Witch. One is a slave working for the Confederate Navy and the others are a freedman and an escaped slave serving in the U.S. Navy. Regular admission will be charged.

In Baltimore, this is a chance for the USS Constellation to shine. Her proudest service was probably during the three years she was the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s African Squadron, one of eight vessels with orders to suppress the African slave trade. She captured the Cora in 1860 and rescued more than 700 captured Africans. On Feb. 26 and 27, at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for children, visitors can tour the ship and learn the story of the nighttime chase to rescue the captives.

In the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, National Park Service rangers will lead a tour on Feb. 27 and tell the dramatic story of the 77 Washington slaves, including some from Georgetown, who tried to slip away to freedom in 1845 on The Pearl, a chartered ship. They failed but their story captivated the nation. This is a free tour.

The Battle of Franklin Trust
, a non-profit management corporation that represents Franklin’s battlefield sights, is hosting a free afternoon with storyteller and vocalist Naima Johnston-Bush on Feb. 26. She will perform Negro spirituals and discuss their historical significance.

On Feb. 26, at Alexandria’s Fort Ward, one of the few surviving forts built to protect Washington during the war, historian Carroll R. Gibbs will speak on African Americans in Washington and Alexandria during the war. The cost is $10.

By Linda Wheeler  | February 18, 2011; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  150th anniversary, Events  
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