Kennesaw’s Southern Museum held an educational event for the closing days of 2023’s Black History Month celebration

Two Black men dressed as Union Civil War soldiers fire musketsTwo Black men dressed as Union Civil War soldiers fire muskets (photo by Evan Bursinger)

By Evan Bursinger

The Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History offered an educational event for the Kennesaw area on February 25, to help teach people in the community the stories of the oppressed.

The Southern Museum, a Smithsonian associate, held an event on Saturday, February 25, to celebrate Black History Month. The celebration was aimed at informing the public of African-American history, or more specifically the ways in which Black Americans have contributed to the foundation of the country, especially during the years of domestic conflict known as the Civil War.

Many of these contributions from the past have remained unheard in the public consciousness, either being censored or ignored by those in charge of spreading the word. These occurrences were highlighted by the people in charge of the event.

“We’re hoping to help spread messages of those who may have been silenced through history,” said Josh Trower, one of the speakers, and descendant of an African American soldier who fought in the Civil War. “We want to tell the full story of the South.”

Trower is the education program coordinator of the Southern Museum and was the main driving force in putting the event together for the community. He often helps run tours through the museum, educational field trip experiences for younger children, and other various community events throughout the year.

The event had a large emphasis on fun hands-on activities for children within the Kennesaw community. One of the events aimed at the kids attending was a quilt-making activity. This activity focused on the common pastime of African-American artist Harriet Powers, a woman born into slavery in the rural northeast of Georgia.

She was known for her unique techniques of storytelling through her quilt designs, using methods commonly seen in West Africa. According to a handout given to guests of the museum day of the event, Powers now has two quilts on display in museums, one in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and another one at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

One of the most popular parts of the event was the hourly musket firing outside the entrance to the museum. In the front area of the property, there stood two African-American men, dressed in replica Civil War Union soldier uniforms, and armed with replica muskets. At the end of every hour, the two reenactors would show off the methods used by soldiers during the Civil War in firing their weapons, a very long and tedious task.

Two Black men dressed as Union Civil War soldiers fire muskets
Two Black men dressed as Union Civil War soldiers fire muskets (photo by Evan Bursinger)

Trower is pictured on the left, firing his replica musket alongside James Hayes, a long-time Civil War reenactor throughout the southeast who has been involved in the activity since 1989. The two of them hope to spread awareness of the impact African-Americans had on the Civil War. “By the end of the war, African-Americans made up 10 percent of the union army,” Hayes said. “African-Americans helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the union.”

Reenactors Trower and Hayes were set up by a replica of a Civil War soldier camp as well, where they demonstrated and explained to curious children the ways soldiers used to survive while gone from home to aid in the fight.

Other activities at the event included a railroad track worker activity, an electrical circuit experiments activity, and an activity about the 6888th Postal Battalion.

“Turnout has been great,” said Operations Manager John Sexton. “It’s always good to hold events like this for the community.”

Entry into the Southern Museum’s various events is included with general admission, according to the museum’s official site, free for children ages 2 and under, $5 for children ages 3-17, $5 for active-duty military or students with ID, $10 for adults, and $8 for Seniors ages 65 and older. A couple of events to look out for are the museum’s mommy & me activity event on May 4, French gratitude train celebration on May 6, and Civil War history day on June 10, 2023.

Evan Bursinger is a 4th year undergraduate student at Kennesaw State University, majoring in journalism and emerging media, and minoring in music and entertainment business. Evan enjoys spending his limited free time with his friends in the school’s marching band, studying Japanese, and blogging about any form of art that catches his attention.