KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event Series, annual events which began in 2010, will conclude April 30-May 3 in Knoxville. A highlight of this year’s event is the Blue & Gray Reunion & Freedom Jubilee, sponsored by Knox County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, the East Tennessee Historical Society, and Visit Knoxville, which takes place April 30-May 3 in Knoxville.
East Tennessee and Knoxville played a pivotal role at the end of the Civil War as Union and Confederate struggled to reconstruct and find reconciliation after the war.
To remember this important piece of history, Knoxville will once again host a Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee with four days of programming focused on reconstruction, reconciliation, and rebirth of a nation. The city hosted a Blue & Gray Reunion in 1890 and 1895 where former enemies and comrades of the 1863 Battle of Fort Sanders met and shook hands. African Americans were uninvited during those times but, this year, The Blue & Gray Reunion and Freedom Jubilee will celebrate and remember the veterans and descendants of the 1st U.S. (Colored) Heavy Artillery regiment.
“East Tennessee's Civil War experience differed in many ways from the rest of the state,” said Cherel B. Henderson, executive director for the East Tennessee Historical Society. “We want visitors to learn about this history through the lives of real people of that time, their stories, their struggles, and finally at war's end, the resilience they found to rebuild their families and communities.”
The opening ceremony and color guard presentation by 1st U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery will take place 11:30 a.m. at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center. The Freedom Jubilee will feature the African American story through storytellers, poets, musicians, re-enactments, and vendors 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Alex Haley Heritage Square. A special guest will soon be announced.
Activities May 1-2 will include a Blue & Gray dinner, tours of Civil War forts, historic homes and cemeteries, an 1860s base ball game, a Civil War Exposition, fireworks, and period church services.
A Peace Jubilee will reunite former Unionists and Confederates as one nation and recognize descendants 6-9 p.m. at World’s Fair Park. An evening of music, speeches from the 1890 event, a candlelight ceremony in memory of ancestors, a Veterans Procession, and fireworks will be in store for attendees.
The Service of Remembrance, Reunion, and Reconciliation for a Nation Divided will take place 8:45 and 11 a.m. May 3 at the First Presbyterian Church as well as the rededication of the Sultana Monument 2 p.m. at the Mount Olive Cemetery. The Sultana Monument is erected in memory of the East Tennessee Union soldiers who died in the steamboat Sultana explosion along the Mississippi River.
For more information on the Jubilee, call 865-215-8824, visit www.easttnhistory.org/BlueGray, or e-mail BlueGray@easttnhistory.org.
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Seats are still available to register for the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, call 615-532-7520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Tennessee’s Civil War story, download a complimentary app at www.tncivilwar150.com, email email@example.com, or call 615-532-7520.