(Louisville, KY) Reckoning Inc. is partnering with the Roots 101 African American Museum for a photographic exhibit entitled We Fought for Our Freedom: Kentucky’s African American Civil War Soldiers. It will open with a press conference at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 10 and will remain at the Roots 101 museum through the end of 2022.
The photos in the exhibit are all of soldiers who served in the Union Army’s 108th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, which
was mustered in Louisville in June 1864. The regiment consisted predominantly of formerly enslaved men from Kentucky
and served with distinction guarding Confederate prisoners of war at the Rock Island military prison in Illinois.
For Black men in Kentucky, enlisting in the Union Army was a difficult and often dangerous proposition. Kentucky was
the last state in the Union to allow Black men to join the Army, whether enslaved or free. And even after it became legal
in the summer of 1864, it was still a deeply unpopular policy among many white Kentuckians, with some using deadly
force to keep enslaved men from enlisting. It was also treacherous for enslaved men to travel through the state to
enlistment sites, as they could be caught by “slave catchers” who were paid bounties to return enslaved people to their
And yet, nearly 24,000 Black men from Kentucky braved these challenges and joined the Union Army, with over 44% of
eligible Black men enlisting, the highest percentage of any state. This represented roughly 13% of the 186,000 U.S.
Colored Troops who served in the Civil War, and one-quarter of all the soldiers who served in the Union Army from
For More Information
To explore the research Reckoning, Inc. has done into the lives of the Kentucky’s Black Civil War soldiers, including
archival documents and detailed family trees, please visit their project website at KYUSCT.org.
Reckoning, Inc. is 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to examine the legacy of slavery in America, and to
create ways for communities to engage with this information through research projects, media productions, educational
curricula, online content, and other means.
The Kentucky U.S. Colored Troops Project is made possible by grants from the Gheens Foundation, J. Graham Brown
Foundation, Humana Foundation, Community Foundation of Louisville, Brown-Forman, LG&E and KU Foundation, David
A. Jones, Jr. and Mary Gwen Wheeler, Hardscuffle, Inc., Sociable Weaver Foundation, Snowy Owl Foundation, Kentucky
Humanities, Kentucky Arts Council, Brooke Brown Barzun and Matthew Barzun, American Historical Association, and the
Owsley Brown III Philanthropic Foundation.
We’ve attached our media kit for your review. Also, attached are photos from the exhibit. Plus, a google drive link is provided for additional photos.
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