Blacks portrayed in “Gods and Generals” movie – reportedly in a deleted scene on the Confederate side. As of this writing, I have not yet viewed this movie to verify the rumor. There was a scene of black men (most whom were slaves) in a Confederate camp sitting around campfire singing “Steal Away to Jesus”. One of black men had just been freed by his master who was killed in battle and he was to bring the remains back to his family. The discussions between the men revealed the life of black men during that period – decisions as to what to do with their lives (“wait & see” , runaway if not freed, join Union, head North to join runaway family). There was acknowledgement that the Civil War was an engagement between white men. Black slaves were caught up in the middle of the killing. Although one of the black men in this movie had just been freed, it appeared that his duty was not to the Confederate military, as his obligated presence ended with the death & safe return of his Master’s (Boss) remains to his family.
Slavery as an institution and especially the relationship between black slave and their master, was most peculiar during the Civil War on the Confederate side. Of most importance on a black man’s mind was his “FREEDOM” from slavery, even though the future of a slave or newly freed black man was uncertain. Very rare if any are there Civil War movies that show the participation of blacks on the Confederate side (freed or slave). It’s sort of like the rare sight of statues in the physical likeness of blacks for the South for that time period, even though the South had an overwhelmingly large black population.
SOUTHERN HERITAGE. Negro Spirituals are big part of this heritage. The song that comes to mind was “Steal Away To Jesus”, that was usually sung at black funerals, particularly in the segregated south – dating back to times of slavery. Sometimes it’s sung while the pallbearers carried the casket to the burial.
This Negro spiritual – was authored by slave Wallace Willis from Oklahoma Territory (who was probably in Mississippi at the time) prior to Civil War.
Here’s what the song sounds like – sung by 2 southerners —> Mahalia Jackson & Nat King Cole. Jackson is from Louisiana. Cole is from Alabama.
LEAGUE OF THE SOUTH (LOS) and Complacency. Most people color, especially with deep ancestral southern roots, take offense to the degrading of Black Southern ancestors of the 1800s. However, there’s a pro-white southern group called “League of the South” who while defending Confederate monuments, has expressed that the South does not belong to Blacks. Furthermore, in the above news interview, it’s representative disparage the worth of ancestral southern black ancestors – based on skin color.
First of all, just about all things Confederate (flags and monuments), has been vilified not because of what any black representation. It’s because of the actions of a group of representing whites.
The irony of this situation is that while many who publicly support Confederate and Southern Heritage at rallies, they question why the obvious lack of black support; but then they are complicit in the racial conduct. When the news media (after bearing witness to the racial activity) lumps all whites with Confederate flags together as a unit, the white Confederate supporters began to wonder why they are labeled.
Whereas, many blacks in America, understandably do not consider July 4th as Independence Day, some tend to view June 19th (Juneteenth) as the official liberation date for enslaved blacks. For yrs there has been unsuccessful proposals & attempts in the South to get Juneteenth declared as the official “Black American Slave Liberation Day” because many blacks feel that Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation did not officially end slavery of their ancestors – which it did not.
Slavery of Blacks in US was officially abolished by the ratifying of the 13th Amendment – which was on December 6, 1865. That really should be the official date for a National Proclamation signing .. and that should be the date for Celebrating. It’s a date that descendants of black slaves can relate to, moreso than the awkwardness of July 4th. December 6th should never be forgotten.
SOUTHERN HERITAGE. Contributions, Accomplishments and History of Southern blacks are usually hidden in the history of the Reconstruction Era, which is an era that appears to be a taboo subject matter these days amongst many white Confederate supporters. That is the era where Southern blacks (the men) 1st gained right to vote & 1st gained right to hold political office.
Take Florida for instance, whereby the FIRST black person elected to US House of Representatives from that state was in 1871 – namely Josiah Walls (a former slave). He was elected as a Republican. It took 135 years later after Walls left office for Florida to elect its next black republican to US House of Representatives – in 2011 (Allen West was the next & last). This is not well known. And I suspect that it’s because of Reconstruction period that most try to hide from black people. But this is a HISTORICAL period important to Southern blacks.
Another piece of hidden history is that Josiah Walls served in the Confederate army – albeit forcibly as a slave; but nonetheless he did contribute. However, it does not appear that Walls gets credit for the service he rendered & he’s rarely if ever ever mentioned in Confederate support circles nowadays. Afterall Walls is a historical figure.
I strongly urge every Southern black person who has Southern ancestry to research the Reconstruction Era as much as possible. It might not be a popular nor a desirable subject matter amongst many White Confederate supporters, but within the Reconstruction era lies much of the recorded HISTORY of Southern blacks & the accomplishments they have done for their race of people.
South Carolina. Considering the time period, Southern Black slaves, in particular were put into a peculiar situation – and understandably faced with dilemma of “do I stay as a slave… or I do take the risk of escaping to be a free man”.
Before Robert Smalls, a trusted slaved, joined the Union Navy, he did serve in the Confederate Navy – eventhough many nowadays don’t acknowledge this because Smalls took the Confederate sea vessel (the Planter) and turned it over to the Union in order in secure freedom of his black Confederate crew, himself, and others from slavery. Needless to say, when it was discovered that Smalls had escaped, South Carolina placed a high bounty on his head. Smalls duties for the Confederacy included: piloting the Confederate ship, set up mines, and stocked the ship with ammo & supplies that the Confederacy needed that he transported.
The following black slave Confederates were part of his crew:
• Abraham Jackson
• John Smalls (no relations)
• Alfred Gourdine
• David Jones
• Jack Gibbes
• Gabriel Turner
Rather than say #HeritageNotHate .. let’s call this SOUTHERN HERITAGE FREEDOM!
Black women, many whom were slaves also contributed to the South. Some of them provided nursing care to the injured Confederate & Union wounded in battle. This representation was on the public display at that Mansfield War museum, in Mansfield, LA (Desoto Parish). Though I am pleased that at least this museum was thoughtful enough to prominently feature a black female’s contribution as shown in above photo; but throughout all my travels in the south, I have yet to find any statue erected (for the southern side) that reflects Women of the South who are black.