Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
				Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

United States Colored Troops Civil War Symposium

October 11-14, 2007

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives
1201 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC

Presented by
The Military Road School Preservation Trust
Washington, DC


Photos by

Clinton Williams
Sharon Heist
Bennie McRae

They Fought for the Right to Be Free
Military Roads School Preservation Trust

By Sharon Heist
Sierra Vista, Arizona 

The recent conference held at the Charles Sumner school in Washington, DC was an opportunity for many people to learn elements of the Civil War, and its Black participants that they may never have been exposed to. 

The planners of the program worked very hard to bring diversity, dynamism and new ideas to the conference. The amount of expertise among the presenters was awesome.   Many of the participants expressed their thanks and interest to the presenters and planners for that information.  A frequent comment was, "I never knew that…". The lunches and buffet allowed the presenters to sit with members of the audience, who then had the opportunity to ask more questions. 

It was especially noted that some of the best known historians and archivists were also learning new facts-and able to move beyond some of their long-held ideas. Bennie McRae’s presentation on the 25th Army Corps was enlightening for many, including the information that the 25th was the only Corps in the history of the United States Army made up entirely of Black infantry regiments, and their important role in the last days of the war.  Sharon Heist also received thanks from several for her information on the contraband in Washington.  For sheer dynamism, backing concrete information - no one could beat Hari Jones - just fantastic.   Hari used the fallacies portrayed in movies and media to illustrate the need for the truth to be made available, and he continued with detail after detail of the contributions and valorous deeds of Black Americans in the Civil War.  There was literally no aspect of the conference that didn’t bring new information or ideas for further research. The presenters learned as much as the audience.

Presentations by experts in several fields were augmented by the ladies of FREED, gospel music and the Dubose family of musicians.  Not to be neglected were the efforts of the ladies who cooked and presented the hearty "Civil War luncheon," replete with tin plates and fresh hardtack. (no weevils!)

When you add to this; the presence of Mr. Douglass, re-enactors of the 54th presenting the flag, the ladies of Freed and the hospitality throughout, it was a terrific conference.

The only concern was the size of the audience.  First of all, the people who didn’t attend missed a great program.  The Military Road School Preservation Trust really tried to get especially the teachers to attend.  It is sad that they didn’t come. It is also a concern for other similar conferences and symposiums.  You can have the most exciting presentations, but getting more than a few people in the audience can be difficult.

Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Events | Tags: Arizona , Washington , civil war
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1201, 1213, 1216, 1218, 1222, 1238, 1239, 1241, 1242, 1249, 1381, 2007, Arizona, Civil War, DC, Jones, Mary, United States Army, Washington (DC), Williams,