By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
CORINTH – The Corinth Contraband Camp is significant for the many lives it changed as the Civil War came to a close.
A symposium to explore the significance of this model project is planned for April 17-18 in Corinth, as events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War wind down.
The National Park Service’s Shiloh National Military Park, which includes the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center and the Corinth Contraband Camp, organized the event in conjunction with the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library at Mississippi State University and the Ulysses S. Grant Association, to highlight the significance of this place in African-American and Civil War history, said Interpretive Center supervising Ranger Ashley Berry.
“We received a $22,500 grant from the Lower Mississippi Delta Region Initiative,” Berry said. “This is a federal law that requires the National Park Service to sponsor outreach programs to raise awareness of the Delta theme, natural resources, cultural diversity, music, culture, heritage and so forth.”
Three re-enactors will portray important figures – George Buss as Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Curt Fields as Ulysses S. Grant and Michael Crutcher as Fredrick Douglass. “Grant” and “Douglass” will visit Corinth Middle School and all three will participate in a Thursday evening and Friday afternoon public event.
“The National Park Service will hold its centennial in 2016,” Berry said. “Part of what we’re doing at Shiloh in response to the call to action is we’ve adopted the sixth grade at Corinth Middle School, and they’re a big focus of a lot of our activities.”
Noted Civil War historian Dr. John David Smith of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte will present a Thursday evening talk on the Contraband Camp and the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops that was organized at the camp.
Dr. Deidre Cooper Owens, historian at the University of Mississippi, will give a Friday talk about the life of former slaves in the camp, with a closing concert of Civil War music by popular artist Bobby Horton.
All events are free and open to the public, and will be presented at the Corinth Coliseum Civic Center.