A local museum celebrates Black History Month - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

A local museum celebrates Black History Month

By Mackenzie Patterson - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A local museum is taking a rare and deeper look at the lives of black sailors during the Civil War.  In the exhibit's final day, the national Civil War.  For Black History month, the National Civil War Naval Museum in Columbus is further exploring the stories and bravery during that time.         

The pictures of the exhibit show more than just the day to day life of the sailors for the Union Navy.

Black men and white me, working together in a time when our country was in chaos over slavery.

Ken Johnston, the Director for Programs and Education at Port Columbus, said black sailors made up about 20% of the forces and were completely integrated.

"You have black sailors who get equal pay, the same job duties, and the same medical benefits as white sailors," said Johnston.

Johnston said the exhibit celebrating black history shows how important black sailors were to the U.S. Navy.

"If you were to say take them out of the equation, you're military capabilities are going to be severely hampered," said Johnston.

The exhibit focuses on the lives of several important figures such as John Lawson and Horace King.  Lawson was a member of the gun crew of the U.S.S Hartford.  He was injured after his ship was attacked, but did not leave his post even though he was instructed to get medical attention.  Johnston explained for this reason Lawson was award the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Horace King was an architect, bridge builder, and businessman in the Valley area.  Johnston said King was a dedicated Union man although forced to help the other side because he was black.

The exhibit also cleared several misconceptions.  Johnston explained to News Leader Nine that black sailors served for both the Union and Confederate forces.

"He is still considered officer status even though he's a black man and a slave serving with the Confederacy," said Johnston.

But most importantly, Johnston said the exhibit is a direct connection to the Valley's history, the C.S.S Jackson

"It was built here in Columbus by the citizens of Columbus, black and white, free and enslaved," said Johnston.

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