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Black veterans’ names may be added to courthouse plaques

NATCHEZ — One of the federal agencies responsible for restoring the federal courthouse will begin outlining plans to include the names of black World War I veterans on the courthouse’s outdoor memorial plaques.

General Services Administration Acting Public Affairs Officer Gregory Dyson Andrews said Tuesday while no plans have been finalized, details will become available in the coming months. Dyson works out of the GSA’s Southeast Sunbelt Region office in Atlanta.

Friends of the Forks of the Road Coordinator Ser Seshs Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley has campaigned for black soldiers’ inclusion since learning of an online essay written by California State University Northridge student Shane Peterson.

In that essay, Peterson said a federal roster states 581 black men entered the U.S. Army from Adams County between 1917 and 1918.

Peterson’s essay also states a survey of the Natchez National Cemetery suggests that approximately 200 black Army Troopers returned to Adams County after the war, yet none appear on the courthouse plaques, which were unveiled in 1924.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors last month passed a resolution in favor of modifying the plaques. Board President Darryl Grennell said GSA’s attempt to resolve the issue is a step in the right direction.

“In this day and age, this should not be,” Grennell said of the plaques. “Everybody made sacrifices during that war and all should be recognized whether they are black, white, blue or yellow. It doesn’t matter.”

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