- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

A conference on blacks and the Civil War, which is expected to become a biennial event, will take place May 26 through 28 in Petersburg on the Campus of Virginia State University.

The conference is the first of its kind in the area and will focus primarily on how the Civil War affected black life and culture during and after the war. Through papers and lectures presented by leading experts on the subject, organizers hope to highlight just how much of an impact it had.

“The broad conclusion is that African Americans don’t care about the Civil War because they don’t see it as their history,” said conference organizer Steven Ramold of Virginia State University, “but it is their history; it is the watershed event in their history.”

Conference organizers picked Petersburg as the perfect location because of the battlefield and surrounding area’s historical significance. The Siege of Petersburg included the Battle of the Crater, where U.S. Colored Troops were killed in a failed attempt to breach the Confederate line. The surrounding area is also rich in black history; a number of freed blacks who worked in the mills in the Petersburg area established freemen’s settlements and communities along the Appomattox River, Mr. Ramold said.

The event is being organized by the city of Petersburg, the National Park Service, Virginia State University and Pamplin Historical Park, a privately owned 19th-century park and museum.

Speakers at the event will include William B. Gould IV, author of “Diary of a Contraband” and a professor at Stanford University; Brenda Stevenson, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles; and Robert Stanton, former director of the National Park Service.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit www.caacw.org.

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