Letter: From Civil War to Civil Rights

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to a photograph that appeared in Sunday’s edition of the St. Augustine Record that was entitled “Smoking tribute to Civil War siege”.

In fact, as a mulato family originally out of Barnwell, Aiken also known as Hankinson, South Carolina, I am excited to see that we can civilly talk about the war.

Matter of fact, I am thrilled the National Park Service (NPS) will be celebrating the “Civil War Sesquicentennial” or Civil War 150 from January 2011 through December 2015.

Throughout the country National Park Service (NPS) Battlefields and other NPS site will offer interpretations of Civil War activity as we reflect upon the theme “From Civil War to Civil Rights.”

This idea envisioned by NPS requires specific recognition of the change in attitudes of individuals and families impacted by the war over time. This interpretation has been often denied to blacks, mulato, and Native Americans, and downplayed the significance of their events.

Most notably President Lincoln, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee’s proclamation allowing for blacks to fight for either the North or South, which history text book marginalize black folk memory of the Civil War and make blacks out to be cowards.

As a business partner of NPS we are to understand that the celebration’s goal is to address the issues of the past and provide a means for ensuring that all histories are adequately represented for audiences and families.

In fact, the Here to Kennesaw Mountain National Battle Park in Cobb County, Georgia will be initiating a plan to expand the current interpretive program and include a model that is culturally and ethnically diverse and accurate. No revisionist history here, just the facts and truth!

According to the focus group final report entitled Assessing African-American Attitudes Toward the Civil War the idea stemmed from a “2000 special congressional charge to explore slavery as a causality of the Civil War and find ways to increase access and relevance to understand populations and attitudes.”

Kennesaw Mountain National Battle Park partnered with the Center from the Study of the Civil War Era (Center) at Kennesaw State University for the sole purpose of researching the attitudes of African-Americans towards the Civil War. Our partner in Virginia Mandela Research, LLC just completed a draft version of the African-American Traveler 2010 Edition and it references that black travelers are looking for both Civil War sites and Civil Rights sights.

This report will be available later in the year; however we know we are on the right track to increase tourism to the oldest city as we plan and prepare for the 450th and 500th celebrations and beyond via the new market model “Multicultural Heritage Tourism.”

The central premise is to gauge and understand that while blacks, mulato, free, and enslaved were the populations that were most affected by the Civil War, the stories of minorities are often absent from public schools text books and from Civil War battlefields site interpretations.

Derek Boyd Hankerson
St. Augustine

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