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Black People Invented Memorial Day, But That Part Got Erased From History (Almost!)


Memorial Day, formally known as Decoration Day, was originally started by a group of African Americans. Yes, The History Channel and many other credible historians have confirmed that the popular holiday was, in fact, initially an event held by newly liberated Blacks in Charleston, South Carolina.

It happened on May 1, 1865 right after the Civil War ended, when thousands of newly freed slaves and regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops gathered to march around a Confederate Army prison camp in honor of the unnamed fallen Union soldiers who fought for their freedom.

Also in attendance were thousands of Black women and children who reportedly sang hymns and carried flowers, wreaths, and crosses.

And then the holiday got whitewashed

Historian and author, David W. Blight, said in his book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory that years later African Americans were suddenly erased from the story by white Democrats after regaining control of state politics at the end of Reconstruction.

Yes, that’s right. A day that originally celebrated Black liberation was now being utilized for white supremacy, and it apparently all started from an 1865 article that was published in the Charleston Daily Courier that tried to discredit the facts.

After discovering that news article, many historians have agreed that after being freed, one of the first things this group of African Americans did was gather to pay tribute to those who died while fighting for freedom. Sadly, you usually don’t hear that part of the story.

According to, “the spirit of the first Decoration Day – the struggle for Black liberation and the fight against racism – has unfortunately been whitewashed from the modern Memorial Day.”


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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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