Memorial Day commemoration in Mercer County honors Black veterans killed in the Civil War

A ceremony in Mercer County was held to honor Black veterans who served over a century ago this Memorial Day

News 12 Staff

May 31, 2021, 10:19 PM

Updated 1,056 days ago

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A ceremony in Mercer County was held to honor Black veterans who served over a century ago this Memorial Day.
The first recorded burial at Pennington African Cemetery took place in 1858. It’s estimated that the gravestones at the cemetery only represents around one-third of all people buried there.
A small crowd came by to honor and remember Black soldiers who entered a segregated military during the Civil War to literally fight for their freedom.
Former Princeton University Professor Cecelia B. Hodges was there to honor the heroes.
“We see the discrepancy between their loyalty, their courage, their bravery and how they were not accepted often in the service,” Hodges said.
Newark activist Larry Hamm said the commemoration takes on a new importance because of the centennial of the Tulsa massacre.
A group of white rioters destroyed a prosperous Black area of Tulsa known as Black Wall Street and killed up to 300 Black residents.
"This is directly related to Tulsa. You really can't understand Tulsa unless you understand the Civil War," Hamm said. "Tulsa was a reaction to the consolidation of white supremacy."
Many of the soldiers buried at the joint units are from Pennsylvania or Connecticut because New Jersey was reluctant to accept Black volunteers.
The men served in segregated regiments because desegregation of the United States military was not ordered until 1948, and not completed until 1954.


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