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Annual Ceremony Remembers Black Civil War Soldiers

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

For Those Who Lie in Yonder Hallowed Ground is a ceremony
at Mt. Hope Cemetery that remembers black Civil War soldiers.
Provided photo.

The sacrifice of men of color who fought in the Civil War will be remembered in an annual ceremony at the graves of the soldiers.

For Those Who Lie in Yonder Hallowed Ground, a tribute to black soldiers, is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon, June 8, in the Grand Army of the Republic section of Mt. Hope Cemetery.

“It’s a simple, solemn yet beautiful event,” said Delores Jackson Radney of the Monroe Freedom Trail Commission, which sponsors the remembrance.

The name of each soldier is spoken and a brief biography is read. Flags are placed at the tombstones.

By the end of the Civil War, nearly 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union, according to the National Archives. Black men were accepted into the Union Army and Union Navy after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

While the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it “added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically,” according to the National Archives. 

The remembrance ceremony is held each year around Memorial Day although at times it has coincided with Juneteenth events, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. on June 19, 1865.

As part of the ceremony at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Buffalo Soldier reenactors will post the colors. David Anderson will perform the African ritual of pouring libation at the graves as the person’s name is recited. A soldier buried at Riverside Cemetery also will be remembered.

Soldiers Sam Bibb, Anderson’s great-grandfather, and George Brown, the last living civil war soldier in Rochester and ancestor of Freedom Trail Commissioner Hanif Abdul – Wahid, also are remembered.

The ceremony includes visits to the grave of Frederick Douglass and Anna Murray Douglass, and the grave of their son-in-law, Civil War soldier Nathan Sprague.

The event is free, and attendees are asked to gather at 9:45 a.m. June 8 at the south entrance of Mt. Hope Cemetery, across from the Distillery. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair.

For more information, call Delores Jackson Radney at (585) 355-8888.