17 African-American Civil War soldiers will be recognized at conference

October 09, 2003

The U.S. Colored Troops Institute will hold its Fall 2003 Civil War Conference this weekend, recognizing 17 black soldiers who earned the Medal of Honor for bravery and courage in combat during the Civil War.

The event will honor those who fought and died to liberate 4 million black people from slavery, said author John Gourdin, president of the Central Maryland chapter of the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society and chairman of the conference planning committee.

Wylene Burch, director and founder of the Howard County Center of African American Culture, will lead a recognition ceremony and introduce presentations by descendants of Civil War soldiers at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Columbia Hilton.

County Councilman David A. Rakes and Jenkins Odoms Jr., president of the Howard County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will offer greetings. The evening program begins at 6.

At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, a plaque honoring Sgt. Decatur Dorsey, a Medal of Honor recipient from Howard County, will be dedicated at the Ellicott City Colored School, Restored. The small schoolhouse recently reopened as a historical museum.

Lunch and living-history presentations are planned from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the Columbia Hilton. From 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the hotel, speakers will address slavery, the underground railroad and black soldiers in the Civil War.

Co-sponsors of the conference are the Central Maryland chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Friends of the Ellicott City Colored School, Restored, and the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

Tickets are available for the conference and individual events. Information: John Gourdin, 410-499-2816, or JGour din@comcast.net.

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