News / USA

African Americans Reflect on US Civil War

Black soldiers during the US Civil War
Black soldiers during the US Civil War

Multimedia

Chris Simkins

The U.S. Civil War began 150 years ago this week and became the deadliest conflict in U.S. history. More than a century later, people are debating the reasons for the war, slavery versus states' rights. Some historians and civil rights leaders suggest the legacies of the Civil War still have an impact on African Americans today.

These are the faces of black soldiers during the American Civil War. They're rare photographs of some of the 200,000 who fought in the Union army against the southern Confederacy. The pictures offer slices of life that many Americans may not be aware of.  Stories like that of Adele Logan Alexander 's great grandfather, John Robert Bond. He was born in England in 1846.

"When he was 17 years old, hearing about the struggle for Africans freedom in the United States, the story my mother told me was that he got on a fishing boat and came to Massachusetts because he wanted to help free the slaves," she said.

Adele Alexander is a historian. She says her great grandfather joined the Union navy and was almost killed in a battle.

It's just one of the many facts Alexander uncovered about her family. She says her great grandfather sacrificed to help future generations.

"What a remarkable thing that this boy in England who heard the debate over slavery would disrupt himself from family there and cross an unknown ocean to take this great step in his life and this great step which changed life for him and his descendants," she said.

And that inspired Alexander to write a book about the Bond family post-Civil War.    

"Hard line segregation kicks in, and blacks are worse off in many instances than they were in the period immediately after the Civil War during the reconstruction period. Starting in the late 1800s early 1900s, you begin to see the great migration north and this was enormously disruptive to African Americans. This was people who had been a peasant population, who had lived on plantations, were moving into modern industrialized cities and they were very poorly equipped to deal with the challenges of that. In turn that caused new breakups of families, and I think we are still seeing the results of this today," she said.  

During her research, Alexander learned more about her grandfather, Warren Logan, born into slavery in Virginia.  

"He was born to a woman whose name was Pocahontas who was a slave, possibly of Native American background, and his father was a white man, probably his owner, but like ((African American leader)) Booker T. Washington, he had the opportunity to go to school," she said.

Alexander says the Civil War not only freed the slaves, it empowered African Americans to take control of their lives.

"It has been a long and painful process and I don't think that it is over because I think that we have legacies of racism and economic disparities in our country. But certainly just ending the institution of slavery was enormously important to this country," she said.

Alexander says the Civil War defined the United States as the most multi-racial democracy in the world.

But there's a down side.  For example, census data in 2005 show that at least half of African American children were being raised by a single parent.  

And black unemployment is at 15.5 percent, almost double the national average.

"The Civil War itself was a part of the great legacy of slavery in this country and we ((African Americans)) still live with that every day," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People or NAACP, the nation's oldest civil rights organization.  

"The NAACP was founded by Republicans. It's the party of ((President)) Lincoln, and it has a great tradition of inclusion. And in this moment, we would hope that all people in this country, would be using this (( the Civil War anniversary )) as a moment of national reflection about the need for us to reunite ourselves and move beyond old divisions," he said.

While many people share his hopes, others feel much needs to be done before the dreams that evolved after the Civil War become reality.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid