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    At a Civil War Battlefield in Mississippi, There’s a New Effort to Include More Black History

    At a Civil War Battlefield in Mississippi, There's a New Effort to Include More Black History

    VICKSBURG, Miss. — Thelma Sims Dukes grew up during the 1940s and ‘50s in a segregated Mississippi town steeped in Civil War history.

    As a small Black girl, she would walk to school through Vicksburg National Park — the hilly battlefield where Union and Confederate soldiers fought and died over whether the U.S. would continue allowing slavery in the South.

    Union forces won a pivotal campaign to capture the town of Vicksburg and gain control of the Mississippi River in 1863, hastening the war's end. But during Dukes' childhood, Vicksburg venerated the Confederacy and ignored the history of Black soldiers who fought for the Union, including her great-great grandfather, William “Bill” Sims.

    “The superintendents and the museum curators — they said we didn't fight in the Civil War,” Dukes said recently.

    The Black soldiers' valor and service to the country is no longer ignored, thanks to the efforts of historians, park employees and citizens like Dukes. On crisp morning in mid-February, Dukes and her niece, Sara Sims, and four park employees — two of them Black men wearing reproductions of U.S. uniforms from the Civil War — placed American flags on 13 graves where a group of recently identified Black soldiers are buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery, which is part of the military park.

    A historian working for the military park, Beth Kruse, identified the soldiers through research of military records,…

    Continue Reading This Article At Military.com

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