Blacks have good reason to celebrate on the Fourth
News Washington columnist Douglas Turner made an interesting statement when he wrote the following on July 4: “A good reason for African-American interest in this holiday is hard to find. Our independence from Britain got the slaves nothing.”
I agree with Turner. However, all Americans need to be told that over 5,000 black men served in the Revolutionary War. They fought with the hope that at the end of the war they would be free. When the war began Gen. George Washington issued an order forbidding the recruitment of blacks. The order was later reversed and blacks were allowed to serve.
African-Americans celebrate the Fourth of July out of tradition. Perhaps if they really knew the entire history, then we would observe a day of remembrance for those blacks who fought and died for the freedom of America.
All Americans need to know that Crispus Attucks, a black man, was the first to die at the historic Boston Massacre. In 1770, his body lay in state as white Bostonians paid their respects.
Blacks also were part of the Minutemen and like their comrades they could be “ready in a minute.” Another black named Tobias Gilmore, an African prince captured during slavery, was one of Washington’s bodyguards.
Hopefully one day the full story of the American Revolution will include the contributions of African-Americans.
Eva M. Doyle
Criterion Columnist and Historian