Historical Marker unveiled honoring African-American service members

Published: Apr. 1, 2017 at 8:22 PM EDT
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The first historical marker to honor an African-American person in Beaufort County was unveiled Saturday afternoon.

Community members and local officials gathered at the Washington Civic Center for a ceremony called 'African-Americans defend Washington.'

Speakers discussed the significance of the union army equipping nearly 100 African-Americans with weapons to help defend the city in 1863.

The marker will stand in front of the Washington Waterfront Underground Railroad Museum near the corner of Main St. and Gladden St.

Museum Director Leesa Jones says it reflects a shift in U.S. military policy, when African-Americans were enlisted for armed defense rather than duties like cooking and cleaning.

"It gives honor to all those men and some women who sacrificed their life for freedom. Some fighting to gain their freedom and others fighting so that generations down the line would be able to enjoy that freedom. So this is our way of honoring them," she said.