Mississippi Civil War History Project
Presented by Tony Dorty
Photos by Ms. Elaine Tyler
Tony and Elaine - New Year's Eve 2001
Early in September 2001, the National Park Service, (Mississippi Branch or region) collaborated with a privately owned touring company, Shipp Isle excursions to send me into the school system in the Biloxi and Gulfport areas. The purpose of the "Mississippi Project" was to introduce to the students there; the role played by African American combat troops in the that region of Mississippi. Our main focus was on the 2nd Regiment Louisiana Native Guards, who at one time garrisoned Fort Massachusetts on Shipp Island. The fort guarded the approaches to the City of New Orleans. Confederate Prisoners were also sent to Shipp Island where they were guarded by Black troops.
Our joint goal was to connect the "Dots of History", get the students to relate to the history we were introducing them to. I would speak to the students about that period and time. The "mechanism" to get the students to relate, was to discussed the individual choices and life altering decision made by the men and women we were discussing. The results of the choices made by these individuals would impact them, their families, their race and surely the Nation. Taking a stand for what they perceived to be right or wrong would make them famous as well as infamous. The Students I spoke to, were that day and each and everyday having to make choices and decisions that would affect them as individuals as well as the regions in which they lived. Some choices they would make, would have an effect on this nation. The students learned that history is not old and faded like the books on a library shelf or an old and aging black and white photograph cracking and tearing along its edges. It is fluid and ever changing, it is being created each and every day by "us". We visited at least 8 schools, spoke to 3000 students of all grade levels from k to 12.
A variety of methods and techniques were used during presentations, from storytelling, to individual and group participation. The older students were given the opportunity to step up to microphone and tell there class mates what their future choices might be. We also did presentations out at Shipp Island, were I spoke to about 300 people. All in all the "Mississippi Project" was a great success and we are looking forward to returning in the near future.
The images depict the individual and group participation of some the middle school students at several of the schools we visited.
Tony Dorty at Tuskegee University, November of 2000. He is wearing the uniform of a First Sergeant in the 1st regiment South Carolina Volunteers A.D.
Oh the smell of "Ole Be Joyful", elementary school students hold their noses as Tony describes the method the soldiers used to make one of their favorite past time "drinks".
A picture with the soldier.
You got's ta have muscle ta be ah soldier in dis he'ah ah'me!
A merry band of brothers toast to the war and comradeship.
Photograph opportunities with the Sergeant.
Be very careful what you volunteer for, (note little girl second from left who seems to be thanking God she got picked, she did not quite know what was in store for her).