Remarks by Harry Bradshaw MatthewsGood Morning.
My name is Harry Bradshaw Matthews and I am the grandson of the formerly enslaved African in South Carolina, named Richard Parler, Jr., the Grand Master West Indian Mason.
What a glorious day it must be in heaven for my ancestor to join with your ancestors in smiling down upon us on this day. For truly, this is a glorious day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania as we honor the 200,000 black soldiers of the Civil War and their part in freeing 4 million darker brethren while helping to preserve the Union.
Mayor Linda Thompson, as a representative of the 12 state delegations who have gathered here today, I wish to thank you for opening up your city to us as it had been opened up to our ancestors 145 years ago. To all the organizers of this historic event, including Mr. Lenwood Sloan, our general-in-arms, thank you.
Our ancestors kept a promise to fight for the freedom of their 4 million brethren and sisters. And now we gather today as the Freedmen Descendants, as the descendants of the United States Colored Troops, and as the voices of that heritage, which is being preserved by scholars, humanists, historians and educators, many of whom are here today.
Let the citizens of the United States and other countries around the world know that the descendants of the formerly enslaved Africans in America are standing tall and erect on this day. We vow to keep the memory of our ancestors alive using all means that are necessary. We vow to conduct the research to identify the hallowed ground in which our ancestors were laid to rest. And to agitate and advocate for the preservation of such land as a legacy for future generations.
We salute those darker brethren from Canada and India who stood shoulder to shoulder with our ancestors in the USCT to end slavery. We salute those darker brethren from Caribbean sites - the Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti, Cuba, Virgin Islands and others - who stood shoulder to shoulder with our ancestors in the USCT to end slavery. We salute those Native Americans - Nanticoke of Maryland, Pequots and Narragansetts from New England, and the Shinnecocks and Montauk of Long Island - who stood shoulder to shoulder with our ancestors in the USCT to end slavery. We salute those white officers who led our ancestors in battle to end slavery and preserve the Union.
As we gather to march in today's parade honoring our ancestors, let us call forth their spirits to march with us. And finally, I share with you these following words:
Let us praise God a new,
Let us praise our ancestors too,
And let us not forget a glorious tomorrow.
Harry Bradshaw Matthews Remarks
USCT Grand Review Ceremony
Saturday, November 6, 2010