When did Americans first observe Memorial Day? Why? The answer to both questions is as profoundly moving a story as you'll ever hear. It begins on a racetrack in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865. It is a history that is often forgotten or, in some cases, willfully suppressed.
David Blight, professor of history and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale.
- "The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots."
- "The war ended with revolutionary and lasting results that echo down to the present day—especially in the two broad questions of racial equality and federalism. A great deal of American political, constitutional, and social history can be read through these two broad, likely eternal challenges."
This segment aired on May 30, 2016.