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Drew Richardson tires to looks through an American flag February 20, 2005 during a homecoming celebration for 150 soldiers from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 293rd Military Police at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
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Understanding How African-Americans Created The Rich Traditions Of Memorial Day

Education doesn't stop in the classroom. Over the years, we've had to unlearn many of America's historical traits and discover just how much African American, Latinx, and Indigenous Peoples have done for the foundation of the country. Another aspect of America's fabric includes how freed black women, men and children created Memorial Day.

The story kicks off during the days of the Civil War in 1865 when Union and Confederate soldiers fought in Charleston, South Carolina. Just two years earlier, free and escaped slaves were allowed to enlist in the army with a reported 179,000 taking part. During the most savage parts of the Civil War, hundreds of members of the Union were left for dead at Washington Race Course with the track being converted into a prison camp. As many fled the state (including Confederate soldiers), former slaves remained.

Post and Courier columnist Brian Hicks wrote in 2009 that those who died at the racecourse were buried in mass graves but the former slaves (who called themselves “Patriotic Association of Colored Men”) dug up the bodies and created shallow graves for the soldiers in Hampton Park. The group reportedly created a 10-foot fence and dug 257 graves.

The effort took two weeks but the funeral proved to be a touching tribute as a documented 2,800 black school children sang songs like "John Brown's Body" and “The Star-Spangled Banner” with sermons delivered by black preachers on May 1, 1865.

David Blight, an American history professor at Yale University (Race and Reunion) and author Robert Rosen (Confederate Charleston) note that the event was known as “Martyrs of the Race Course” and appeared in the paper, Charleston Daily Courier, the next day.

“What’s interesting to me is how the memory of this got lost,” Blight said. “It is, in effect, the first Memorial Day and it was primarily led by former slaves in Charleston.”

It's been said that white people confused the ceremony for a celebration for the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 (insert eye roll) and a year later, Waterloo, New York celebrated the so-called first Decoration Day, mimicking the same traditions done in Charleston.

In April 1866, Confederate Memorial Day took place with both holidays doing the same traditions. The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization for Union veterans, declared May 5, 1868, Decoration Day but Union Maj. Gen. John A. Logan decided Decoration Day should take place later in the month (May 30). Eventually, the holidays merged and became Memorial Day to be celebrated on last Monday of May.

The complicated role of black people in American wars continued as Chuck Hobbs of the Hobbservation Point noted in the 2017 article, Remembering when Black soldiers were lynched en masse by the Army during World War I. Hobbs shared how General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, enforced a divide between black and white soldiers, stating, “we must not eat with them, must not shake hands with them, seek to talk to them or to meet with them outside the requirements of military service. We must not commend too highly these troops, especially in front of White Americans.” Black soldiers were lynched for petty violations and at times, due to sheer racism.

At times it's hard to enjoy a holiday that hasn't honored all of us, but historians continue to uncover unsung heroes nearly every day. Films like Glory have highlighted black soldiers and reenactments of their efforts continue around the country.

Read more about Memorial Day's history here and feel free to revisit The Root's breakdown of the holiday below.

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Marvel Announces Mahershala Ali Will Take The Screen As The Next 'Blade'

Over the weekend, as the East Coast was beating the heat, comic enthusiasts gathered in San Diego for Comic-Con 2019. On Saturday (July 20), Marvel Studios got movie-goers amped in standard form by announcing their slate of movie releases for the next few years, but threw an added surprise in the mix. Not only is the studio delivering a new version of Blade, but it will be fronted by none other than Mahershala Ali. The accomplished actor, who took home Oscars for both Moonlight and Greenbook, was on-hand to celebrate the moment.

There’s just one more thing... #SDCC pic.twitter.com/0Q3F4AZJLg

— Dustin Sandoval @ #SDCC (@DustinMSandoval) July 21, 2019

 

 

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Just announced in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel Studios’ BLADE with Mahershala Ali. #SDCC

A post shared by Marvel Studios (@marvelstudios) on Jul 20, 2019 at 6:43pm PDT

After the triumph of Black Panther and a host of other inclusive super hero movies in the last couple years, Ali carrying the torch after Wesley Snipes immortalized the role is a win.

The Comic Con celebrations didn't stop there. Other major Marvel titles announced starring some of our faves included Eternals in 2020 (Brian Tyree Henry), Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2021 (Awkwafina), THOR: Love and Thunder in 2021 (Tessa Thompson), Black Widow in 2020, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2021 in theaters, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in 2020 (Anthony Mackie), WANDAVISION in 2021 (Teyonah Parris), WHAT IF...? in 2021 (Jeffrey Wright), Hawkeye in 2021, and LOKI in 2021 for their Disney+ streaming service.

No release date for Blade has been announced.

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Michelle Obama Named Most Admired Woman In The World

Michelle Obama is the most admired woman in the world according to an annual survey conducted by research firm, YouGov.The former first lady beat out previous champion, Angelina Jolie, who slipped to third place behind Oprah Winfrey, while Queen Elizabeth and British actress Emma Watson rounded out the Top 5.

Fellow former first lady, Hilary Clinton, came in at No. 8, two spaces behind activist Mala Yousafzai, and ahead of Nobel Prize winning chemist Tu Youyou, Taylor Swift, and Madonna. Current first lady Melania Trump landed near the end of the list at No. 19.

Billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates was again named the world’s most admired man, a title that he has won every time that the survey has been conducted. Former President Barack Obama came in second on the men’s roster followed by Jackie Chan, Chinese president  Xi Jinping and Chinese businessman Jack Ma. The Top 10 includes footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, the Dalai Lama, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and billionaire Warren Buffet. President Donald Trump is at No. 14 on the list behind Elon Musk and just ahead of Pope Francis.

Although the women’s list changed this year, the men’s list has remained the same since last year’s survey. For the first time ever, YouGov expanded its polling to more than 42,000 people across 41 countries. Participants are asked who they truly admire where they can choose multiple options, and “who do you MOST admire” where they can only pick one person. In December, YouGov collected “opened ended nominations” with the question: “Thinking about people alive in the world today, which [man or woman] do you most admire?” The nominations were used to compile a list of 20 men and women in at least four different countries.

Besides topping the women’s and men's lists respectively, The Obamas secured the No. 1 spot on the tally of most admired man and woman in America. Trump landed in second place alongside Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Rapper Tay-K 47, whose given name is Taymor McIntyre, is on trial for the capital murder of Ethan Walker during a botched home invasion. He pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, but not guilty to the capital murder charge.
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Tay-K Facing Up To 99 Years In Prison After Being Found Guilty Of Murder

A Texas jury found Tay-K guilty of murder and three counts of aggravated robbery Friday (July 19) in connection with a 2016 home invasion that left one man dead and another wounded. According to The Star-Telegram, jurors deliberated for around four hours before returning a verdict.

The 19-year-old rapper, born Taymor McIntyre, is facing five to 99 years in prison but avoided a capitol murder conviction which would have ended in automatic life in prison. The jury will likely return a sentence Monday (July 22).

During a court hearing earlier in the week, Tay-K pleaded not guilty to the murder of 21-year-old, Ethan Walker, and guilty to aggravated robbery charges in relation to injuring two other victims. “The Race” rapper, who went on the run after the incident, is one of seven people charged in the fatal robbery. Tay-K's lawyers argued that the gun that killed Walker was fired by his accomplice, Latharian Merritt. But prosecutors argued against the notion that Tay-K had no involvement in the fatal robbery as he was armed at the time.

He also stands accused of robbing and killing a 23-year-old man at a Chick-fil-A, as well a attacking and robbing a 65-year-old man while on the run from authorities in 2017.

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