I know. I should have written this column in February (Black History Month) or April (Confederate History Month), but at that time I hadn't yet run into Cathy Gordon Wood, president of the Giles County #257, United Daughters of the Confederacy. I hadn't yet heard about Ms. Wood's struggle to win recognition for black Confederate soldiers.
You may think "black Confederate" is an oxymoron, or the set-up for a "Saturday Night Live" sketch, but it's not. Long before Al Gore's global warming documentary, black Confederates were the "inconvenient truth" of history.
Just because modern people have a hard time wrapping their minds around the conditions and emotions of the 1860s, that doesn't mean black Confederates didn't exist. As I vegetate on my sofa, I can't picture setting sail for a New World, but that doesn't mean the Pilgrims were imaginary.
It's ironic that in this age of "diversity," the Establishment wants to erase the possibility that blacks at the time of the Civil War walked in anything less than lockstep with the current orthodoxy.
Like it or not, although the majority of them were not front-line combatants, as many as 90,000 blacks (slave and free) served the Confederate army in some capacity during the War Between The States.
Just Google the phrase "black Confederate." Although many Confederate records were destroyed and politicians and the mass media have spent a century trying to bury the truth, you will find a wealth of information. Yes, you may run into a few lunatic rants from hate groups who whitewash slavery, but mostly you will find solid research about a part of history that has been hidden from us.
Don't settle for the lazy "everyone knows" mindset. "Everyone knows" that the South seceded from the Union entirely over slavery, that the virtuous Yankees were universally welcomed as liberators by Southern blacks, and that no self-respecting black would have lifted a finger to promote the Southern cause. But what "everyone knows" is wrong.
You're not supposed to hear about blacks who raised money for the war effort, executed deserters, chose to remain in the squalor of Yankee P.O.W. camps rather than renounce the South, received government pensions, or proudly attended Confederate veterans reunions.
You're not supposed to know that there were hundreds of thousands of free blacks in the South before the war or that Maryland and Delaware (Union states) still allowed slavery during the war or that some Union soldiers robbed, raped, and killed Southern blacks or that moderate Southerners such as Robert E. Lee favored general emancipation.
I'm sorry if the information on the Internet makes it difficult for the politically correct crowd. It's hard to denounce today's "tea parties" when people realize that economic repression by the North was one of the real major causes for the formation of the Confederacy. It muddies the waters for apology/reparations campaigns when the public knows that some free blacks owned slaves and that blacks fought and died for the Confederacy.
The War Between The States was an unfortunate part of our history. Let's not compound the problem by perpetuating lies about it. Do some research and emancipate yourself from ignorance about history.
If you would like to help Ms. Wood win recognition for black Confederates, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her at P.O. Box 602, Pulaski, TN 38478-0602.
Note: Danny Tyree welcomes e-mail at email@example.com.