Kentucky's African American Civil War Memorial
Located in Greenhill Cemetery, this marker honors African Americans from Kentucky who defended the Union in the Civil War. The Women’s Relief Corps dedicated the monument on July 4, 1924. African Americans constituted nearly one-third of the Union troops from Kentucky but this was the only monument to black soldiers created prior to the war's centennial.
Backstory and Context
The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation pressured President Lincoln to allow African Americans in the Army. In May of 1863 when the United States War Department created the Bureau of Colored troops the States that was in the Union fought to oppose the allowance of their African Americans to join. Both the District Commander of Kentucky and Ohio opposed allowance of Colored Troops due to the opposition of white and African American population. Kentucky was known for being slave owners and the White people did not want this to change.
Kentucky African American troops chose to join the War to fight for their freedom. Kentucky had a major number of African American Troops, making up nearly one-third of all troops that was enlisted. Many of the States troops went and enlisted in other states prior to March 1, 1864 when the state finally passed that African American’s could enlist.
Congress passed a series of laws after the Civil War over the veto of President Johnson that challenged the control of former Confederate leaders. In 1867, former Confederates were deprived of the vote and the South was divided into five military districts under military commanders. Laws were also enacted that provided support for education and social welfare for former slaves and white Southerners who lacked funds to support themselves. African American leaders, including Union veterans, ran for office, led fraternal organizations, and organized schools and churches.
2. Hine, Darlene C. Hine, William C. The African-American Odyssey. Edition 3rd. Vol. combined. NJ. Pearson, 2006.
3. Kentucky African American Civil War Memorial. HMdb.org. Accessed December 8, 2017. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=84704.
4. Talbott, Tim. Kentucky African American Civil War Memorial. ExploreKYHistory. Accessed December 7, 2017. http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/191.