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May 30 Is Founders Day: African American Milestone Little Known Observance

From the NJG Newsroom

On May 30, America will observe Memorial Day, to remember persons who died in service to the nation. But the day is also called Founders Day, says Dr. E. Curtis Alexander of Chesapeake, a noted author, educator and historian of Afro-Union military history during the Civil War. Alexander says the day is also dedicated to celebrating the creation of the United Bureau of Colored Troops by President Abraham Lincoln. At one point, after the Civil War, it was observed regularly by Black Americans.

For the 16th year, starting at 10:30 a.m., the Bells Mills Historical Research and Restoration Society, Inc. in Chesapeake which Alexander heads, will stage the only known event in the nation observing Founders Day and honoring Black soldiers and sailors who fought during the Civil War. The event will take place at the Unknown and Known Afro-Union Civil War Soldiers Memorial on 1001 Bells Mill Road in Chesapeake.

The creation of the bureau was shortly after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved Blacks in states fighting against the federal government. Black men were recruited and trained to serve in the Union Army to fight for their freedom and defeat the Confederate forces. Alexander will host the event and lecture on the importance of Founders Day.

There will be a salute to over 209,145 and over 31,000 Afro-Union soldiers and sailors who volunteered to fight in the American Civil War to save the United States and to defeat slavery. Over 50,000 were killed in action. Ancestors will place flags on the memorial sites of 13 of these Soldiers who were residents of Old Norfolk County. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited to 50. For more information, call (757) 547-5542.

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