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Formerly Enslaved Africans Created American Memorial Day
by Reprint Wikimedia
Tuesday Apr 18th, 2017 5:20 PM
Maryters of the Race Course forgotten and disrespected, yet soon come alive again.
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On May 1, 1865, former Black slaves started Memorial Day in America.

This occurred in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Together with teachers and missionaries, Black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony that year which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers.

The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled, "Martyrs of the Race Course." Nearly ten thousand people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 Black school children newly enrolled in Freedmen's schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to be placed on the burial field. Years later, the celebration would come to be called the "First Decoration Day" in the North.

David W. Blight described the day: "This was the first Memorial Day. African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina. What you have there is black Americans recently freed from slavery announcing to the world with their flowers, their feet, and their songs what the war had been about. What they basically were creating was the Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.”

Today the site is used as Hampton Park.

Reference:
Wikimedia Foundation
204 37th Avenue North Suite330
St. Petersburg, FL. 33704
by wikipedia & snopes
Saturday Apr 29th, 2017 9:30 PM

Historian David W. Blight, citing an observance after the end of the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865, has claimed that "African Americans invented Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina,"[14] based on accounts in the Charleston Daily Courier and coverage by the New York Tribune. But in 2012 Blight stated that he "has no evidence" that the event in Charleston inspired the establishment of Memorial Day across the country.[15] Accordingly, Snopes labels Blight's claims "mostly false."[16]

Despite this ongoing lively debate, there is an "official" birthplace. On May 26, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the holder of the title. This action followed House Concurrent Resolution 587, in which the 89th Congress had officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day had begun one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York.[17]Snopes also regards the Waterloo legend as apocryphal.[18]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day#History

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WHAT'S TRUE

In May 1865, free blacks in Charleston reburied dead Union prisoners of war and held a cemetery dedication ceremony.

WHAT'S FALSE

The May 1865 event was the origin of the modern Memorial Day observance.