Desccendants Jubilee Project
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The Descendants Jubilee Projec

Welcome.

 The Descendants Jubilee Project is an endeavor to recognize and honor the memory of the men and women of color who fought as soldiers for the coming of Jubilee during the American Civil War and then left the places of their enslavement to go west. Many black men rode as cavalrymen during the Civil War and helped the Union Army to victory over their past slavemasters. Afterwards, they went on to help tame the frontier west and build a place for themselves and their descendants. They are the shadow warriors of American history. They are buried in unknown cemeteries and in places some of which are known but unattended. Others are buried in unknown burial places, waiting to be rediscovered.

 The Descendants Jubilee Project educates the general public, especially students, about the history, not often found in traditional American history courses, where too often teachers and school administrators don't know where to find, period authentic and historically accurate interpretations of living history to present. The Project's Shadow Warriors program strongly encourages and supports historical reenactments and maintenance of historical burial grounds. Our living history presentations of the military and western frontier history, bring attention to the real story of  people of color in the frontier west after Emancipation.  The middle and late nineteenth century, before the close of the frontier, was the beginning of the time of the Jubilee. It was the beginning of a march that hasn't yet ended.  The jubilee Project honors our heroic ancestors. 

Many of the black Americans who went west, did so as soldiers. They had previously served in the United States Colored Troops of the Union Army. Many were veterans of one of the six black Federal regiments of the United States Colored Cavalry or the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry. The men from these units later formed the core of the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiments, known forever as Buffalo Soldiers. Many others were pioneer homsteaders who were  sometimes known as "Exodusters". They helped to settle the frontier by founding black towns and settlements in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. They were in the vanguard of the struggle for civil rights and social justice that continues even now.

This site pays homage to them and the thousands of cowboys, settlers, scouts, outlaws, freighters, merchants, teachers, lawmen, miners and just plain folks of color who after fighting for their freedom from slavery, saw the west as a chance for a better life. Come share the stories of people of color who helped to win the American Civil War and build a life in the frontier west. 

 You too can join the ranks of modern day Living Historians and Reenactors, who bring to life the people many historians have consigned to the shadows of history.  As a USCT descendant, I believe it is important that we learn, understand and pass on the stories and what they accomplished on our behalf. We must continue to pass along the rich oral history of our community heroes and do everything we can to honor their burial places.

Many people don't know that the Buffalo Soldiers were heavily recruited in cities like Philadelphia, PA.  As the Civil War ended and Recpnstruction began, the black soldiers of the Jubilee became the Buffalo Soldiers.  Many Philadelphia families count both the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War and Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry among their family ancestry but, you won"t learn that in history class.

People of color have not always been acknowledged in the history of how the Civil War was won or how the frontier west was developed.  That is slowly changing. Many of the independent historians have begun by researching burial grounds and discovering the lives of ordinary men who enforced the Emancipation Proclamation wherever they marched, the United States Colored troops of the American Civil War. 

Even American Indians have been relegated to the footnotes of American history.  Here, we'll celebrate the stories of people once enslaved but now, since the coming of Jubilee, determined to find a better life and a dream fulfilled. We'll also highlight the roles played by  re-enactors and living historians of color  in making people  become aware of the unheralded contributions and sacrifice made by men and women long gone. We continue to honor our ancestors,  through our portrayal of events in their lives and by honoring their burial sites. 

 One of the most important reasons for embarking upon this cyber-journey with you is our general annoyance with what we perceive to have been the deliberate omission of the stories of people of color from American history. The people who have chosen to become the guardians of American history seemed to have purposely ignored the exploits of black Americans as they created their exclusive view of American history. These days, that's all changing. Historians of color are now conducting research and through their writing, their filling in the huge gaps in American history where Black, Indian and Spanish exploits and accomplishments add balance to our knowledge of the frontier west.

  Where omission had been  perpetuated until very recently through  books, television, motion pictures, magazines and every other medium of communication, now there is an effort to get it straight.  It is also evident in the planning of public commemorations of historic events at historic sites that the story of America must be revisited. Here,we don’t purport to be professional historians but, we do love the story of America .  We would like to see and hear the stories of  people of color included in the public  commemorations of  the history that we love.

Young people benefit enormously from the knowledge of their ancestry.  Many young people of color suffer from a lack of identity, not knowing the contributions of their ancestors to the larger society or the sacrifice endured to build a better life for their descendants. The Shadow Warriors program helps to bring recognition to the men and women of color, who fought for freedom from slavery and also helped to tame the frontier west. 

 We encourage people of color to  search for and present the stories of our role in building  and defending America and in the development of America especially the frontier West. Please enjoy this site and let us know what you think of it.

If you would like to arrange for a living history presentation or, if you need a speaker for an event showcasing 19th century American military history, register on the contact us page and let us know. We're especially interested in presenting living history in schools for grades from K-8.  Young people,  especially those in urban school districts, need to gain a much better sense of of the contributions made by their ancestors to build lives free of religious intolerance, racial prejudice and social inequality. 

 We help students appreciate that American history is an exciting learning tool,  especially when history can be brought to life in their school auditorium, class room or gym.  Let us know if you'd like to experience iving history.  We'll contact you and assist you with planning for an exciting and enjoyable event.

Preserving the Legacy

We thank the independent historians we've talked with and met, for the inspiration and much of the information we've compiled. Special thanks to William Loren Katz who inspired a  first-hand pursuit of the history; thanks also to the late William Leckie and his widow Shirley (now remarried) to William Gladstone who gave us insight on the enormous role of the United States Colored Troops of the Civil War. We also thank black artist, historian and  author, Art Burton and historian John W. Ravage who rode with us in Texas years ago. They along with William Loren Katz  have given us a true vision of  people of color in the froniter west. They are the  historians and authors who have helped and encouraged us at different times. We especially thank Bennie McCrae Jr. who, in our opinion, is unsurpassed as a researcher. He is an unsung hero of black re-enactors and living historians.  Bennie continues to assist all of us by compiling his research at  ttp://www.lwfaam.net

One of the most interesting ways of convincing folks to pay attention to their history is by joining the ranks of the re-enactors and living historians, who spend their time and resources making history come alive. Sometimes you’ll see them on television in nationally broadcast documentaries about important episodes in history but most often these are people who immerse themselves in a period of history and present it to you at venues that allow you to view them up close. In most cases, becoming a re-enactor is a labor of love that gives the participant a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction.

It is our interest in what happened to thousands of black Americans, who went west after the American Civil War; to build a life for themselves after the coming of Jubilee that has inspired us. Their stories of hardship and sacrifice were never  included in the chronicles of the homesteaders and pioneers of the American west. The stories of the young men who were the original cowboys (The word was once a derogatory reference to black men who worked with cattle.) were not included when the history books, we learned from, were written.

The great warrior chiefs of the Plains Nations; the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ansaroka, and others were not described as honorable men, who defended their wives, families and their lands against invaders. The towns and settlements of the territories and states of the southwest were not described as having been established by residents of New Spain and Mexico who had owned the land well before the “Americans” came. The Apache and Comanche nations were never described as warrior societies with long proud histories of their own.Their history will also be honored here.

Our attempt to focus attention on the history that we didn’t know,  is done through our own search for identity and by a need to bring that history to life, for ourselves and others who would like to know. These are stories that are important, interesting and fun to learn and share. We welcome additional contributions to this website. Use the contact page to reach us. Thanks.

Learn more about becoming a re-enactor >

 

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