By Nico Martinez
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Next Wednesday in the Civic Hall at the Blackwood campus of Camden County College, a commemoration of the African-American soldiers who served in the Civil War will be held free for anyone who wishes to come. This presentation, from 7 to 9 p.m., will be hosted by James E. Johnson, a history professor from Rutgers University.
There is much to learn from a presentation of this magnitude, pieces of information sometimes left out of traditional accounts of the Civil War. African-Americans were a very crucial part in ending (and starting) a majority of the battles held in that war. Johnson will explain their sacrifices, hardships and the toll that war had on not only African-Americans but all Americans from there on out.
More than 170,000 African-Americans enlisted in the Union Army alongside President Abraham Lincoln comprising more than 160 units and around 16 percent of the Union Navy was African-American. Slavery, one of the many reasons the Civil War was started, made it almost impossible for some African-Americans to get out of joining in the ranks; however, not all of them were forced into enlistment through slavery. Many African-Americans volunteered to join the Union Army and Navy, even though they did not have many rights at the time.
A big part of the abolition of slavery depended on the Union winning the Civil War, which is why a vast majority of the African-American population was more than willing to do whatever they could to help Lincoln and his army. The Emancipation Proclamation was released in the middle of the Civil War, which freed many slaves and eventually would allow all African-Americans who were still slaves to fight for their freedom.
There are many things that came out of the Civil War that would go on to shape this country into what it is today, some of which Johnson will address in his presentation. Four years ago, America elected its first African-American president, something no one during the times of the Civil War could have ever dreamed about.