On the afternoon of March 3, 2017, the University and City of Charlottesville celebrated the first annual "Liberation and Freedom Day" commemorating the Union occupation of the university and town during the American Civil War. Forces under Union General Philip H. Sheridan entered Charlottesville on March 3, during which time many of the county's enslaved residents were able to escape from their masters. The first annual celebration of the event began with a short program at the university's chapel and then moved downtown to the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. There Nau Center Director Gary W. Gallagher briefly addressed the audience (source UVAToday):
"Gallagher, an expert on Civil War history, said the center’s scholars have recovered the names of 240 black men born in Albemarle County who fought for the United States during the war.
Even though the legacy of the Civil War is still raw, “the Lost Cause” of the Confederacy is only one story, he said. The history of the black men who put on blue uniforms and joined 70 different regiments has not been similarly commemorated. They demonstrate the diaspora of enslaved African-Americans who found their way to freedom, Gallagher said.
“There’s an idea – build a monument with their names on it,” he said, to applause."
To read the full recap of the event, please see UVAToday's full story linked below.