GDG- NPS & slavery
CWMHTours at aol.com
CWMHTours at aol.com
Wed Jan 4 11:14:53 CST 2012
YOU tell me about the 200 slaves living at Arlington Cemetery.
If you want to be an expert and complain then you step up to the plate and
tell me all about the 200 slaves.
I only know about two of them specifically. One whose name, I think, was
Selena was a "house slave". A servant of Mary C Lee. She stayed behind
when Mary went south and tried to keep the Yankees from destroying the
mansion when they occupied the place. Oddly enough, I haven't heard of where
she is buried. Haven't heard that she is buried in the cemetery.
The other is a slave named, I think, John. He was born on the plantation
and is buried in it. Over by the Seneca Creek sandstone wall next to Ft
Myer where there is no gravel road.
That's about all I know.
What can you tell us? Do you have a true anecdote I can use next time I
take a tour group there?
The slaves at Arlington, like slaves all over this country, have a story
that is, for the most part, LOST.
I am not aware of anyone writing a book on the story of the slaves at Arl
And if you care so much then how many times have you walked through the
section of 500 Freedmen buried in their segregated section?
How many times have you taken groups of African-Americans, adults and
students, through Arlington Cem and explained their own history to them? You
try it if you want to criticize me.
Why don't you tell us the story of the Freedmans Village that used to be
on the Cem. It was at sect 10 & 25 but it was moved. Tell us why.
What happened to the Village? What is the relationship between the
Village and the cem section? What happened at the Village? Where did the people
go when it was shut down and they were evicted?
I know all that stuff. But you tell us about it.
I've done 100s of African-American tours. I talk a lot about the slaves
in the Cem when I have black groups. I point the two Gen B O Davis's from
Tuskeegee and Chappie James. I walk them through the Buffalo Soldier
section. Do you even know where that is?
My complaint, if you had comprehended it correctly, is that in 1992 when I
worked for the NPS/Tourmobile the NPS had a deliberate program of
over-emphasizing African-Americans and slavery over other topics that were even
Are you getting that? If there is a scale of "importance" in terms of the
people buried there then many people who were not African-American were
not mentioned because the NPS MANDATED that we talk about the lesser
important Blacks. We were REPRIMANDED if we didn't talk about Chappie James and
instead talked about Bull Halsey and Charles Wilkes.
And the same program appears to be going on at the Gettysburg V.C.
200 people? Yes- that sounds important to me. That they were slaves?
Yes, that should be talked about.
How about the other 250,000-300,000? Aren't they important too? Tell us
who Michael Blassie is and what happened to him. Tell us about Commander
Bruce Van Voorhees. What did he do to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor?
We would be reprimanded if we did not mention the new black woman who got
on the Tomb Guard for the Unknown. But talk about Van Voorhees? NPS
didn't care. Bruce Van Voorhees was a REAL AMERICAN HERO who sacrificed himself
to save others. I'd rather tell his story than the first black female
Tomb Guard. They should have made a movie about him.
There was nothing in their script about, Asians, Latinos and American
Indians. I think the story of Ira Hayes is great.
But not in the NPS manual. Why?
Yes, 200 people were slaves. Do you think we should spend the WHOLE TIME
talking about them at the deletion of the others?
If so, good for you. Because that is the NPS program at Arlington.
200 slaves have their place. They should be talked about and pointed out.
I think it borders on rascism when the NPS MANDATES that you talk about
slaves and "relatively obscure" African-Americans in way that takes up time
you could be using to talk about MORE IMPORTANT PEOPLE.
Yes, I think Bull Halsey, Charles Wilkes, and Bruce Van Voorhees are more
significant than the first black female Tomb Guard. I'd rather talk about
Why wasn't it MANDATED that we also talk about American Indians, like Ira
Hayes, Latinos and Asians?
You have to getting the message I hope.
Is it finally sinking in? The NPS places a higher PRIORITY on slavery and
African-Americans at the expense of other races and topics.
Dig that? I've seen it.
In a message dated 1/4/2012 11:00:15 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,
amills at jplcreative.com writes:
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
I have to admit, this is an excellent point that I found myself failing
despite having what I consider to be a very liberal and modern view on race.
I never considered myself to be a racist or bigot, but this showed me that
my eyes were not as opened as I thought.
I only considered the owners and the "white" people and gave no
consideration to the slave population that also called Arlington "home."
I am in part embarrassed and also now understand how little of this
history has been taught and why it needs to be told, even at places I normally
didn't felt it shouldn't be told. I used to be in the "Slavery needs to be
told, but Gettysburg should focus on the battle and Lincoln's address and
slavery should be the focus of places like the National Civil War Museum in
Harrisburg", but realizing something about myself, I don't want my children
growing up ignorant of this history as well as I truly feel it is the core
story of America that still resonates to this day.
I just want to personally thank you. This one email has opened my eyes to
why this story needs to be told at any appropriate place more than
anything I have seen, read or heard previously. I am now fully in the camp that
the slave story needs to be a key part of the Gettysburg story and not just
the story of why two white armies decided to fight on those fields
(although I still think the military story and the actions of those three days
needs to be told as well). It sounds a little cliché, but I realized something
about myself from this one email and something I need to correct.
From: gettysburg-bounces at arthes.com [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at arthes.com]
On Behalf Of ATMackeyJr at aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 11:48 PM
To: gettysburg at arthes.com
Subject: Re: GDG- NPS & slavery
Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
Interesting you don't seem to consider almost 200 human beings to be
people living at Arlington. When asked who lived there, you only give the
owners and their families. Nobody else matters to you.
I'll let others decide what that says.
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