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History comes alive at Black and Blue

NATCHEZ — The Union will again briefly reoccupy Natchez with the annual Black and Blue Civil War Living History Camp today, and the prince among slaves — in the form of his descendents — will be present.

Friends of the Forks of the Road Coordinator Ser Seshsh Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley said the reenactment — which this year coincides with a national observation of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War — will present the stories of five enslaved men who were born in Adams County and joined the Union Navy and were a part of the naval squadron that participated in the Vicksburg campaign and the battles for control of the Mississippi River.

The reenactment will also tell the story of five black women who, as runaway slaves, joined the Union military nursing effort and served on the land and floating hospitals along the Mississippi River.

“In a sense, we are telling the stories of these 10 people who are representative of the thousands of people who became supportive of the Union with the expectation that freedom would come with the helping of the Union winning the war,” Boxley said.

Other actors will portray famous women such as Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth.

“These heroic women are showing what the local Mississippi valley women had in common with them as wives, nurses and Union Army supporters,” Boxley said.

In addition to the reenactment, the event will feature traditional African music and will be attended by Artemus Gaye, the seventh-generation grandson of Adul Rahman Ibrahim, the famed Liberian prince who was enslaved in Natchez until he was able to gain his freedom in 1828.

A schedule of the day is as follows:

•6:30 a.m. at Natchez Under-the-Hill, a Maafa ceremony in which a drum, incense and food offering will be made to the energies of the enslaved people who were shipped and sold as slaves along the Mississippi River corridor.

•8 a.m. at Forks of the Road, a similar ceremony and offering will be made at the site of the former slave market.

•11 a.m. at Jefferson College, a performance of kora music. The kora is a 21-string instrument with a body made of a gourd. Boxley said the musician who will perform, Jali Morikeba Kouyate, is a Senegalise native who comes from a 700-year family tradition of storyteller musicians.

•Noon at Jefferson College, a meet-and-greet reception for Gaye.

•1 p.m. at Jefferson College, the storytelling and reenactment.