It was then known as Negro History Week, and included the
1809 birth date of President Abraham Lincoln on 12 February (at left) and the 1818 birth date of Frederick Douglass in 14 February. The later being a former slave and prominent leader of the abolitionist movement of the era.
The week of recognition has over recent decades turned into a month of celebrating. Soon it could be a daily event, as it is so very much needed. I invite you to visit Canadian Senator Don Oliver's comments on how little we have really advanced regarding prejudice and racism. These can be read at.. http://theath.ca/opinions/senator-donald-oliver-60-we-still-need-a-black-history-month/
The senator played a role in creating the month, many years ago. He is Canada's first ever Black senator, and still so serves with incredible distinction.
More in line with the theme of these blogs, a fellow in the US once said that.. "The price of freedom has always been high, but we as Americans have always paid this. This is especially true of America's Black Navy Men."
The speaker was John Fitzgerald Kennedy!
Over about the last 2 decades I have been researching the Canadians and those with close connection to Canada that became military heroes. Men who were awarded the United State's Medal of Honor for bravery. They served in not only the navy, and marines and coast guard but also all sectors of the army and air force. My numbers of recipients have more than doubled what most on the net would have you believe. Well over 400 stories have appeared on these pages. Several dozen others stories have covered Victoria Cross recipients and related matters.
In the 1960's a series of recruitment posters were created for the US Navy. Above is one depicting the Pease story. Internet reference materials tell us that there were three black Canadian Medal of Honor recipients... Joachim Pease, Robert Sweeney and Joseph Noil... all being navy men. All worthy of attention during this and every Black History Month.
Pease was thought to have come from Fogo Island in Newfoundland, or Long Island New York but this has been challenged and his home was probably in Cape Verde. Nevertheless, some thinking he was from Canada, I originally listed him as one recipient of interest to this space.
Pease was working one of the main guns on the deck of the USS Kersarge off the coast of Cherbourge France in June 1864 when it came into contact, after over a year's searching...with the dreaded Southerner's CSS Alabama. A battle broke out and the Alabama surrendered. Pease's gun being so accurate, the enemy actually put a price on his head. His commander recommended the MOH and described him as being one of his best men.
The battle was one of the most famous, and also most interesting of the Civil War and can be searched on this site.
In the 1960's the US Government created some navy recruiting posters, Above is one depicting the Pease story, Below is one covering the Noil story. Pease's actual medal of honor is shown above as well. It gives his name, the battle, location and date of battle.
As you can see from the old unreadable marker, (above, at left) there is quite a difference now in the story the viewer gets as he or she visits the site.
At this time he is believed to be the lone Canadian Black MOH recipient. He was born in Nova Scotia, possibly at Liverpool. Search this site for more details. There were about 90 Black Medals of Honor awarded. Noil's was number 6.
In the above image, he appears to be wearing either one of his Medals of honor or the Grand Army membership badge. The image quaility is too poor to be sure.
Many reference sources tell us that he was from Montreal or Boston but in fact he was not a Canadian and is believed to have come from Montserrat.
Again his story is told elsewhere on the site. But all three are most interesting and should be revisited during Black History Month.
More in a special blog on Wednesday or Thursday.