Arts Playlist: Black history documentary “Voices Long Forgotten” debuts in Delaware City
The Friends of the African Union Church Cemetery in Delaware City have a new documentary called “Voices Long Forgotten.”
The 20-minute film focuses on the history of the free Black community of Polktown, the restored African Union Church Cemetery, and Private James Elbert, who was among the thousands of free African Americans who enlisted and fought the Confederacy during the Civil War.
In this week’s Arts Playlist, Delaware Public Media’s Kyle McKinnon sits down with Craig O'Donnell and Marilyn Whittington of Friends of the African Union Church Cemetery to learn more about the documentary debuting this week.
The new documentary “Voices Long Forgotten” tells the story of Polktown, a free Black village once located near the gates Ft. Delaware.
It also focuses on the village’s African Union Church Cemetery where free Black men who fought in the Civil War were laid to rest.
The documentary from the Friends of the African Union Church Cemetery in Delaware City highlights Polktown as one of Delaware’s earliest free Black communities.
Craig O'Donnell, with The Friends of the African Union Church Cemetery, said the village was rediscovered when the graves of five free Black Union soldiers were uncovered.
“All of them were veterans. They all survived (the war.) Some died sooner, some died later. They tend to disappear from the record after their term of service was over,” O’Donnel said.
Project Co-Chair Marilyn Whittington said the soldiers fought for equality as well as for the Union Army in the Civil War.
“Remember these are men who don’t have citizenship rights. They are fighting for a cause in the hope that the cause, if it’s seen to its intended conclusion, will include them in their full citizenship,” Whittington said.
Whittington says Delaware has a rich Civil War history because the state is situated between the North and South.
“Voices Long Forgotten” premiered this week in Delaware City.