EL DORADO HILLS – The roots of Memorial Day and early Black contributions to the U.S. military will be explored during a special celebration at the Negro Hill Burial Ground in El Dorado Hills on Monday, May 26.
The Memorial Day Celebration will be hosted by the Negro Hill Burial Ground Project and is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. at Shadowfax Lane, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762.
“Together, we acknowledge the U.S. Civil War causalities and the families who still grieve. Special attention is focused on the US Colored Troops from California who await dignity and respect for their contribution to the freedom that we enjoy today,” shared organizer Michael Harris.
Harris, a local historian, shares that the first known observance of a Memorial Day-type event occurred in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865, roughly 10,000 people including 3,000 school children newly enrolled in Freedmen’s schools, mutual aid societies, Union troops, Black ministers, and White northern missionaries organizing and participating.
The first national Memorial Day took place May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where a Presidential Ceremony included placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and decoration of each grave with a small American flag.
“(On Memorial Day) we’ll gather around the “Unknown” grave markers from Negro Hill, California remembering the US Colored Troops from California who fought and died during the U.S. Civil War and many U.S. Colored Troops assigned to California.
Harris says it is time to formally recognize the contributions of California pioneers of African ancestry during the California Gold Rush and U.S. Civil War Era.