African Americans and the Gettysburg Campaign

Thursday, September 287:00—8:00 PMCommunity Room, Entire RoomAbington Free Library1030 Old York Rd, Abington, PA, 19001

As part of the Stories of Exile series, learn about the themes of exile, refugeeism, and slavery as they relate to African Americans in the Civil War. This presentation by Dr. James Paradis will discuss topics that came up in the process of researching and writing his last two books, African-Americans in the Gettysburg Campaign: Sesquicentennial Edition, and (still in the works) a biography of Jeremiah Asher, one of only 14 black chaplains in the Civil War.

Jeremiah, who was born free, learned about slavery from his grandfather, who was taken into slavery as a child in Africa. He supported John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry, which attempted to spark a slave rebellion. When Asher enlisted during the Civil War, he encountered refugees who fled from enslavement. As his regiment marched through the South, he found communities of these exiles trying to survive and to reestablish a sense of community. In learning his story, we will try to clear up some common misunderstandings about slavery.

We will also examine the black population of the town of Gettysburg, discuss what life was like living near the borderline between free and slave states, and also see some of the effects of the Gettysburg Campaign on local black residents and on the African Americans accompanying both armies.

James Paradis teaches at Arcadia University and recently retired from Doane Academy where he served as Dean of the Upper School and taught for 35 years. He has authored two books, Strike the Blow for Freedom: The 6th United States Colored Infantry in the Civil War, and African Americans and the Gettysburg Campaign. Dr. Paradis serves on the board which preserves of the site of Camp William Penn. He was historical consultant and narrator for documentary film, Black Soldiers in Blue: The Story of Camp William Penn in 2009. In 2011 the NAACP of Cheltenham, PA awarded a Certificate of Recognition for his contributions preserving African American history.

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