Kemter was trying to convey consideration to an early Memorial Day tribute on Could 1, 1865, for Black troopers of the Civil Battle in Charleston, South Carolina. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Blight wrote in The New York Times in 2011: “Whites had largely deserted the town, however hundreds of blacks, principally former slaves, had remained, they usually performed a collection of commemorations to declare their sense of the that means of the struggle.” Blight described at the very least 257 Union captives stored in such depressing circumstances that they died of illness earlier than they have been “swiftly burned in a mass grave behind the grandstand” of the Washington Race Course and Jockey Membership.
“After the Accomplice evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the location, reburied the Union lifeless correctly, and constructed a excessive fence across the cemetery,” Blight wrote. “They whitewashed the fence and constructed an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the phrases, ‘Martyrs of the Race Course.’” It’s a historical past few are taught at school, with many considering the primary Memorial Day observance to be on Could 5, 1868, when the Grand Military of the Republic established Ornament Day to brighten the graves of these killed at struggle.
However Kemter tried to offer credit score the place it was lengthy overdue. “It was a Charleston Washington Race Course and Jockey Membership immediately often known as Hampton Park,” the veteran mentioned. “The ceremony is believed to have included a parade of as many as 10,000 folks, together with 3,000 African American schoolchildren singing the Union marching tune ‘John Brown’s Physique,’” Kemter added. “They have been carrying armfuls of flowers and went to brighten on the graves. Attention-grabbing, that there could be a tie again to Hudson with that tune, John Brown.”
Then, Kemter’s voice turned much less audible. Suchan, president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, informed the Akron Beacon Journal both she or Garrison turned down the audio as a result of Kemter’s dialogue of Black historical past “was not related to our program for the day,” with the “theme of the day” being “honoring Hudson veterans.” She additionally admitted within the newspaper that: “We requested him to switch his speech, and he selected not to do this.”
Kemter informed the Akron Beacon Journal he finds it attention-grabbing that the American Legion would “censor” his speech and deny his First Modification proper to the liberty of speech. “This isn’t the identical nation I fought for,” he mentioned.
The Ohio American Legion mentioned in its information launch: “We’re deeply saddened by this and stand in unity and solidarity with the black group and all peoples of race, shade, faith, intercourse, and gender, in order that those that are unique of such individuals will know that this conduct shouldn’t be acceptable in The American Legion, in our properties, our hearts, our communities, in personal, public, or wherever. We’ll proceed to teach the worth of range. Being totally different amongst one another is what makes us higher – collectively.”