Black History Month–William Carney

During Black History Month I like to spotlight some people that most Americans have never heard of or the contribution they made to our society….

Who was the first African-American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor?

You guessed it…….William Carney.

William Carney was the first African-American recipient.

He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions on July 18, 1863 at Fort Wagner, S.C. while a member of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War — the state’s first all-black regiment. During the disastrous battle at Ft. Wagner, Carney noticed that the man who carried the flag had been wounded.

So Carney bravely rescued the flag and carried it for him. He delivered it safely to his regiment and reportedly shouted “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.” Carney was wounded during the battle but was not killed.

After the war he spent 31 years working for the postal service. Finally, in May 1900, Carney became the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. His brave deed is depicted on the Saint-Gaudens Monument in Boston and the rescued flag is enshrined in Memorial Hall, also in Boston.

Here is more information on Carney from the William H. Carney Elementary School and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.


21 thoughts on “Black History Month–William Carney

  1. As I recall, his character depicted in the movie, Glory, was more or less the image of him grabbing the flag from the fallen soldier and running on; there was no drama centered around him as a script character nor any attempt to have his action identified as anything but normal battle chaos, thusly the significance missed by the viewer. Would I be correct? It’s been a few years since I’ve last seen it.

    1. Sadly I have never seen the movie…I was out of the country when it came out and have never thought of it since…..sorry I cannot help out….chuq

  2. Unless you aren’t typically a movie freak, I would highly recommend the film. It had a number of black actors in the early stages of their careers… and of course, Morgan Freeman and a young Denzel. I am sure Civil War historians would find a bevy of issues with it’s accuracy, but it nonetheless raises the issues of discrimination of the day and the valor of black Americans fighting for a cause in spite of it all. A subtle message also depicted in the recent movie, Hidden Figures.. about the black “computer girls” working for the newly created NASA before IBM came along with their computers. The message being that black Americans throughout American history have been called upon to defend (or contribute) in spite of the segregation they endured in the nation they were helping.

    1. Thanx for the suggestion and I will put it on my list….you are right and I try to find those brave souls and highlight them when ever I can….chuq

    1. I find that an interesting idea, John. One of these.. days.. we are going to run out of days to be some sort of remembrance day. What’s next.. Sexual Diversity Day? (Hell, there probably is a day like that already and I don’t know it.. hence my point). The Presidents get one day and blacks get a whole month. Heck, our nation’s independence gets one day and blacks get a whole month. Wait.. Christ’s birth gets one day and blacks get a whole month. Not that I disparage remembering black achievement in this country but there is such a thing as balance in who or what we are devoting our remembrance days to.

      1. Not sure why anyone would have Islamaphobia here in the U.S. Any religion is simply a matter of ideology.. either you by into it or not. No one can brainwash you into it unless you want to believe it. A mosque in a community doesn’t assure Muslim domination of America. Hell. maybe Christians should get together and try converting Muslims. Your article link there suggests “Christian flight” from residential areas similar to the “white flight” of the 60’s & 70’s when blacks entered white neighborhoods. What exactly are you afraid of from Muslims in America.. that all mosques are training grounds for domestic terrorism? That’s quite a stretch. Brings back the days of McCarthyism and the “Red scare”.

      2. Head in the sand does not appeal to me. The danger is real and the danger is here, most people with their heads on straight are aware, attacks have taken place, more attacks will take place, the ideology itself is an ideology of occupy and conquer — you need to watch as our cities are slowly being taken over — I cannot argue this with people who do not wish to see …Europe has committed virtual suicide because of a cavalier attitude toward this menace — There is no reason to discuss this because of all the denial going on — but I will keep sounding the warning until our government takes the same action that Ottawa Canada recently took making it a crime to even talk about it. Americans are going to learn a hard lesson one of these days and I will leave it at that for now.

  3. I second Doug’s endorsement of the film, ‘Glory’. It is about as accurate as these films get, and follows the formation of the 54th all the way to their disastrous attack on Fort Wagner. Great performances by all the cast too.
    As for national holidays, I think it is high time that the US had a ‘National Transgender Restroom Day’. Get it all over with in one morning, and realise that there is nothing to worry about. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. hahah.. a great Brit solution! 🙂
      You know, me and the better half here were just commenting on the international symbol for rest rooms for all genders. There’s a third character and we could not quite discern the image of that third character and what it depicts as an image. I mean, the male and female images are obvious… but not sure I understand the other… as it sorta has a dress.. but legs.. I dunno. As an international symbol I’m a bit confused.

      1. We don’t have transgender toilets here as such. But children of both sexes are habitually taken into the Ladies, and many restaurants have ‘unisex’ toilets with closed stalls. I have been in clubs (a long time ago) when men in drag came into the Men’s Room and lifted their dress to pee. I was never propositioned though. perhaps I should see that as a slight? 🙂 I really don’t have a problem with it, either way.

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