America citizens and requiring states to accord them “equal protection under the law.” The 15th Amendment armed Black men with the right to vote that was quickly taken away by state laws and the wrath of the KKK.

It would take almost 100 years of litigation, marches, deaths and frustration to erase the legal aspects of White supremacy. It would take several Civil Rights Acts and a 1965 Voting Rights Act that abolished the poll tax and literacy test and sent federal registrars into the former Confederate states enabling Blacks to once again register to vote, run for office and serve on juries. It all began with Black soldiers in the Civil War and in 2008, Black voters would join with well-meaning Whites to elect Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States.

At the urging of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), President Barack Obama issued a National African American History Month, proclaiming stating, “This year’s theme ‘African Americans and the Civil War’ invites us to reflect on 150 years since the start of the Civil War and on the patriots of a young country who fought for the promises of justice and equality laid out by our forbearers”. For the full text, go to

April 12 will mark the 150th anniversary of the firing on Ft. Sumter and the start of the American Civil War. The African American Civil War Memorial Foundation will commemorate the beginning of the war with celebrities reading from Civil War period newspapers, speeches, and other documents announcing the coming of the war and its profound effect on the ending of slavery in America. We will also have celebrities read from selected press responses to the election of Lincoln and the anti-slavery platform of the Republican Party of 1860.

The African American Civil War Memorial lists the names of 209,145 Black union soldiers who joined  Lincoln to save the Union. The monument, located at the corner of 10th and U streets in Washington, D. C., was built by a private foundation that operates a museum. On July 18,  the museum will host a Grand Opening for its newly renovated 5,000-square-foot space with new exhibits, artifacts, and state of the art educational programs adjacent to the monument.

Dr. Frank Smith Jr. is executive director of the African American Civil War Museum and Monument.

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