The role of African Americans in the Civil War is the subject of a new historical marker unveiled in Macon Wednesday. It’s the latest of several that are being sprinkled around the city on the 150th anniversary of the war.
A small crowd gathered in front of the marker titled Civil War Era Maconites of African Ancestry Wednesday morning.
It’s located near the former slave quarters of Ellen Smith Craft, a bi-racial slave who gained celebrity after a daring escape up north with her husband where they became activists.
But at the gathering there were only a few people of color.
There’s a reason for that, says Conie Mac Darnell of Macon’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. He points to a Kennesaw State University study looking at why African Americans tend not to be interested in civil war history. “It’s not about us is what they say. If you tell our story we will come and that’s exactly what we are trying to do here.”
Muriel McDowell Jackson of the Washington Library presented a brief history of African American Maconites at the unveiling. She says it’s tough for many African Americans to think about the civil war. For example, she says there were African Americans that fought for the confederacy. “I don’t make a comment or an opinion on that or try to judge them because they were doing what they thought was right, they may have been there under their own volition or they may not have had a choice, but those stories don’t get told.”
That’s why Jackson says this marker is so important. Despite the pain of the past, it’s important to document the history. That’s the mission behind the 12 markers that are being placed around Macon this year.