Veteran Student Services Talks about Black Troops during the Civil War

By Thea Marshall, Staff Writer

The Bringing History to Life: Living Virtual History Class informed participants about Black troops’ honorable role in the Civil War. 

The event was co-sponsored by Assistant Director of Veteran Student Services, Squoia Holmes, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UTC. 

A virtual session held on Wednesday, Feb. 17 featured guest speaker Hugh Goffinet, a Howard University student. Goffinet educated students and faculty on his expertise of U.S. Black troops. 

Goffinet began the conversation with the topic of slavery. He discussed African American’s involvement, contribution, and sacrifice to the American Civil War. 

“When the war first began, African Americans were not permitted to serve in the United States army,” said Goffinet. “Yet, they still had this incredible desire to serve and ensure that this country lived up to the ideas that all men are created equal.” 

Goffinet informed viewers that after much debate, over 200,000 African Americans eventually served in the Civil War. Goffinet claimed many of those troops went on to fight for Civil Rights which laid the foundation for the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments. 

“These amendments were eventually the legal framework for Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, and Thurgood Marshall,” said Goffinet. 

During the Q&A portion, Goffinet said about half of the 200,000 troops were free people. A participant asked if Goffinet could speak to the ethics and challenges of portraying free men or the enslaved. 

“African Americans had to overcome a lot just to be able to wear the uniform,” Goffinet responded. “I think it’s just about being truthful and honest about their stories.” 

This event is part of the campus’ initiative to educate students and faculty in honor of Black History Month. However, Holmes said she does not think anytime is a bad time to talk about this. More information on Veteran Student Services can be found here, and the speaker can be found on his Instagram page.

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