The New York Chapter of the Sons & Daughters of the United States Colored Troops inaugural Diaspora Awards held on Saturday, May 19th at the Faison Fire House Theater was a huge success! The event supported genealogical research that highlighted the contributions of black soldiers who served in the Union Army under the direction of President Abraham Lincoln. As the nation observes the sesquicentennial of The Civil War, descendants and genealogists joined together to pay tribute to the more than 200-thousand black soldiers who fought in The Civil War.
The first- ever ‘Champion of the African Diaspora’ Awards honored three genealogists who help Americans uncover their hidden legacies connected to The Civil War and colonial eras. Ruth Hunt, who has traced her ancestry back to colonial times and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, was saluted for helping New Yorkers find lost branches of their family tree with workshops at Bellevue Hospital. The husband and wife duo Julius & Joysetta Pearse were honored for their genealogical work with The African Atlantic Genealogical Society where they have helped hundreds of people find long-lost relatives.
“This nation has been commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and once again the black soldiers – who helped to secure the Union’s victory, are being ignored. As descendants of these brave and valiant heroes, we cannot allow this to happen.” remarked NY1 news anchor Cheryl Wills. “We find it shocking that there hasn’t been any national recognition of black soldiers (both slave and free) during the sesquicentennial of the epic battle. We will light a candle in their honor and salute genealogists who help families reconnect with their heroic ancestors.” Wills added.
The free event featured live music, remarks from genealogists and historians. It was capped off with an emotional Candle Lighting Ceremony where family members spoke the names of their ancestors who fought in The Civil War.