Henry Louis Gates on Free Blacks and the Confederacy
I am going to feature this video with just a little commentary. Some of what Gates says here is just bizarre. Free blacks were “unmolested” by the Confederacy. Tell that to historian Clarence Mohr. In addition, according to Gates, the “dirtiest little secret in African-American history is that a surprisingly high percentage of the free Negros in the South owned slaves themselves.” Perhaps one of you can tell me what “high percentage” means in this context.
However, the strangest claim made by Gates is that free blacks in North Carolina formed an entire regiment. This clip was just uploaded to YouTube earlier today, but the discussion was held back in 2009. If you begin the complete presentation at 1:25 mark you will hear Gates go on to cite the well known cover of Harper’s Weekly and Frederick Douglass’s reference to blacks serving in the Confederacy as evidence that these men existed.This is around the time that Gates was working on his documentary about Lincoln and memory. Filming took him to Raleigh, where he observed an SCV ceremony honoring the descendants of the slave, Weary Clyburn, for his honorable service in the Confederate army. At some point Gates spent time with Earl Ijames, who is a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History and is responsible for pushing the myth of the black Confederate soldier. Perhaps that explains it.
There are a lot of people who are going to just love this video.