Embrace our history with new monument

Published 8:21 pm Friday, April 9, 2021

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson, with the help and encouragement of other community members, has proposed creating a monument to the approximately 3,000 Natchez area Black men who served in the U.S. Colored Troops during the Civil War.

Gibson proposed the monument be installed at Memorial Park, preferably constructed in bronze and be significant in size. He has formed a task force to help bring the monument from the drawing board to a reality.

The fact that we do not already have a monument to these American patriots is surprising in some ways, not so surprising in others.

For many years, Natchez has embraced only one part of its history. Perhaps that was because of the economics of tourism. Maybe some thought the perceived romance of that period of leisure and wealth for a part of the area’s white residents was all tourists were interested in and all they would pay to come see.

Our complete history is not pretty. It’s filled with violence and hatred, in some ways like the world today. As Winston Churchill once said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

It is time we present a complete history to the best of our ability — good, bad, ugly, beautiful, poignant or indifferent.

It is time we honor those 3,000 courageous Black men, who were part of the 178,000 in the U.S. Colored Troops fighting to preserve the United States and fighting for their own freedom.

Of that 178,000, more than 36,000 died in combat. This project is one we should all embrace.

This is not Black history or white history. It’s Natchez history. It’s our history. Let’s tell it, learn from it and become one from it.