Patriotism and Prejudice: Black Military Contributions and Education During the Civil War

Andrew Bowman Interview - 2022 Cohen Lecture Series

Description of the video:

My name is Andrew Bowman. I'm the grandson of Andrew Jackson Smith, who was a Color Sergeant for 55th Massachusetts volunteers. I am a retired federal employee. I worked with air traffic control system for 34 years. I spent 4.5 years also in the military and the Air Force, spent quite a bit of time doing research on a book called Karen Collins. Looking back on there was an incident that happened in a place called Mount Pleasant, South Carolina until someone pointed out to me. So have you really thought about what you what you read on page 90 book? And I said no, and I went back and read it again. And that's when I recognized how important that particular day was and the life of Andy Smith and probably all of the people who were in that unit as almost 8900 soldiers plus officers. It was a day when the black troops came to Mount Pleasant and the form of slaves saw them coming and recreated them. Such a tremendous amount of respect, joyfulness. They loved every second of the fact that here was their benefactors who are coming to, coming to free them. And here they were black men themselves, ex-slaves, freeing slaves. And they also took this same information and sent letters home telling the family how they fell. A hot wallet. Well, the celebration was joyous, it was. And how the slaves grass admins hands and then the officers allow the group to, since you can say what you please and do as you please. And this this this was in a place called Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. My grandfather when I'm doing my research, he had named his Cemetery Mount Pleasant. He also named the church Mount Pleasant, and then the street was named Mount Pleasant. So to me when I start thinking about that, why that was so important to him that he was a slave. Actually, realizing that he is a benefactor, he was a liberator of other slaves. And that to me, made me feel like how important the fact that the black man was fighting for his own freedom. But he also freed his own people in that particular location. And I think that I would never, I never forget that of all the passages that I saw and read, that's the one that stuck with me the most. I think about my grandfather. Originally. I had very little knowledge of my grandfather and his activities. But what I see is here's a man who was a slave. He was illiterate. He eventually became one of the wealthiest men in his colleague. Because of his activity is hard work, dedication and how he actually helped other people in his community. But what it really amounts to is that it was nice to have a wonderful education, but you have to put it to use. And he took what he did. He put the things that he felt, the need for the people around him and provided all of these different avenues. So he just see what was around them. He utilized that the area was full of trees and land. He was able to survive all of those things. And because he was he worked hard to pay attention to what he was doing and not so much with everybody else's door. For me, it made me realize that and other people that if you work hard and you pay attention to what you're doing more than what somebody else is doing. And try your level best to improve community that you live in. And that's what he did over the course of its lifetime. According to the records, that he held over a thousand acres of land, but they were trying to stop his progress. One, cases against companies, both black and white people. Once you, once you become successful, you also become a target. And as a result of that, I think people have to recognize that you as an individual doing your own thing, keeping you try to be the best you can do. Sometimes you get people who become envious of your success. And they, they do try to hold you back. In. This one tally granted, rivers you actually took, was able to take some of that land and sell it to black people where they will not be offered the lab by others. And so he was able to provide people with homesteads that they could use to get started on their lives. My grandfather, Andrew Jackson Smith, actually made a tremendous amount of impact on my life prior to doing any research on him. And I had very little knowledge of myself. I had very little knowledge of being a black man. I did. I just saw that it was in space and I was felt like almost nothing because I had no nothing behind me. I didn't feel like I was very important to whatever I was doing. I had always looked at people who were talking about their family and their history. And I never really had a real good grasp of our own history. And it wasn't until after I had a some knowledge of myself that became proud of who I was and people proud of my family and your actions. And then once I delving deeply into the life of Andrew Jackson Smith, that's when I found my real true self and how I gained confidence. I gained respect for myself.