On April 12, 1864, Confederate troops massacred surrendering African American soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. This week, a series of public events will commemorate this well documented but little known atrocity.
The Fort Pillow Massacre Commemorative Project is a a grassroots commemorative project that includes descendants of Fort Pillow soldiers; American Legion, Disabled American Veteran, and retired military servicemembers; and other educational and community groups. Recognizing the importance of public memory, the project is working to ensure that the atrocities committed against some 300 Black troops and civilians by Confederate soldiers under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest (who later founded the Ku Klux Klan) at Fort Pillow are publicly acknowledged and never forgotten.
On April 11, 2017, memorial services will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Christian Fellowship Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The program will allow descendants and the public to reflect on the massacre and honor the fallen, and will include speeches, music, and conversation with participants.
A National Wreath Laying Ceremony will take place on Wednesday at the Memphis National Cemetery, where the massacred soldiers’ remains were relocated in 1867. The community is also invited to share in a reception at 5:30 p.m. at Rhodes College, followed by a panel discussion entitled: Fort Pillow Massacre Decoded: We Will Never Forget! at 6:00 pm. Participants will include celebrity guest panelist Judge Joe Brown, descendant Joe Williams, Jeffrey Jones, Ronald Herd II (R2C2H2), Elaine Turner, Dr. Deborah Luckett-Day and Dr. Dee Garceau. The discussion will conclude with a short documentary film, Remember Fort Pillow.
A group art exhibition – “Using Our Art To Tell Our Stories: WE REMEMBER FORT PILLOW!!!”” – is currently on display at The Art Village Gallery near the National Civil Rights Museum in downtown Memphis. The art show features work by leading African American artists inspired by the Fort Pillow Massacre and runs through Friday, April 14.
These events are free and open to the public. More information is available on Facebook.