Black in Blue and Gray, a pictorial exhibit recognizing the contributions of former slaves and free blacks toward their freedom in the Civil War will be on display Feb. 3-28, at the Visitors Center at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Until recently, American history text had all but ignored the contributions former slaves and free blacks made toward their own freedom in the Civil War. It is estimated that between 180,000 and 200,000 joined the ranks of the Union Army and Navy and 38,000 gave their lives in the war between the states. Some records indicate that at least 21 of these courageous men were awarded Medals of Honor.
Black women also made significant contributions as well. The Black in Blue and Gray exhibit tells their stories and explores the issue of whether or not blacks served in the Confederacy.
Sponsored by Volkswagen Group of America, with assistance from Greg Beck, Hamilton County Commissioner, Lurone Jennings, Sr. and the Bethlehem Center, this exhibit is a must-see for all generations, officials said.
The Black in Blue and Gray exhibit was developed locally by the Mary Walker Historical and Education Foundation. Mary Walker Foundation curator and exhibit developer John L. Edwards, III said, "it was an eye opening experience,” when he and his father, Reverend Jon L. Edwards, Jr. first researched material for the exhibit over 21 years ago. “At the time, there were only a hand-full of books written on the subject,” said Mr. Edwards. While working on the exhibit, Mr. Edwards said he received a tremendous amount of assistance from Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military Park historian, Jim Ogden, the Chattanooga Bi-Centennial Library, and the Chattanooga History Center, formally the Chattanooga Regional History Museum.
“It is fitting that the park will be hosting the exhibit,” said Mr. Edwards. Mr. Edwards currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Chattanooga History Center and Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park.
Assisting with additional research on the Black in Blue and Gray exhibit is historian and native Chattanoogan, Dr. Clark White.
Developers say the exhibit through photographs, lithographs, drawings, and interpretive text, helps viewers understand the obstacles former slaves, and those who encouraged their participation, faced in the war that ultimately broke the chains of slavery. “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters ‘US,’ let him get an eagle on his button and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States.” – Frederick Douglass
The exhibit has previously been displayed in St. Louis, Missouri (National Park Service); Warehouse Row; Hamilton Place Mall; and the Bethlehem Center. For additional information, contact Mr. Edwards, III at 267-2313 or email@example.com.