Sims Memorial Library to show films on African-American link to the Civil War era

In honor of Black History Month, the Sims Memorial Library is hosting exhibits and films documenting the lives and contributions of African-Americans during the Civil War Era so that they may be remembered by its patrons. The library’s Diversity Committee sponsors the exhibits and films.

“Because we have a program going on about the Civil War, a reading and discussion series, we decided to piggyback on that and focus on the efforts of slaves and freed black men and women in the Civil War,” said Library Director Eric Johnson. “Whether they were soldiers, caregivers or working in hospitals, whatever they were doing to help the cause.”

Starting Monday, Feb. 6, the library will showcase a display of facts and stories about African-Americans participating in the Civil War.

The Diversity Committee has also set up an approximately 30 minute long documentary entitled, “Royal Federal Blues: The Story of the African-American Civil War,” for 2 p.m. in room 252 of Sims  Memorial Library. That documentary will be coupled with another documentary, “The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry,” and will be held at the same location on Feb. 8 at 2 p.m.

“We thought that would be an interesting add-on to the discussion series,” said Johnson. “So we came up with three films, two documentaries about black soldiers in the Civil War. One is specifically about the Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry, which was the subject of the movie ‘Glory.'”

“Glory,” will be featured on Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. in room 252. The 1989 film stars Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington and tells the story of the union army’s first all-black regiment and their effect on African-American involvement during the war. Johnson expects a crowd of around 25 for each of the three films.

“The library always does something for Black History Month, because our programs and displays are designed to teach,” said Johnson. “I’d like to find something that students don’t know about already, or something that will remind them of something they already knew, but forgot.”

Johnson also looked at the long-term value of presenting these movies.

“We thought it would be fun to show them, and if anyone was interested they could come and watch them,” said Johnson. “After that, they will be part of the collection and they can be borrowed.”