War re-enactors in Mississippi are raising awareness of the contribution African American soldiers made during the Civil War. The actors are worried that some of the war's most important soldiers have been forgotten.
Six men on horseback trot down the street in downtown Jackson. Just a stone's throw away from the state Capitol the horsemen stop, dismount, and stand at attention. These are the men of the United States 3rd Colored Cavalry, or at least they're pretending to be.
John Russell is a Civil War re-enactor from Orlando, Florida. He helped organize the Third in the mid-nineties, and now takes the regiment across the South, educating communities about the more than 179,000 colored troops that fought for the North during the war.
"As re-enactors, getting to the public to pass on that history we wanted them to know about the best," says Russell. That's what the 3rd U.S. Colored was. They were the best and if you look up their records they were the fighting-ist cavalry unit of the Civil War."
The public that Russell really wants to reach is children.
"Good Morning," says Russell.
"Good Morning," answers a group of students from Jackson Public Schools.
Russell says he want's kids and teens to know where they came from, and what their heritage is.
"The Third U.S. was mostly from Mississippi," says Russell. So somebody out here today, they had to have someone in their family who fought in the war, who fought for their freedom. That's something to be proud of."
Christian Johnson is a freshman at Murrah High School in Jackson.
"It really opens up my eyes, lets me know more about who I am and where I came from and my ancestors as well," Johnson says. "I don't really know a lot about them. There is not really a lot of information about them in my family. It's very enlightening and informational."
Nearly 40,000 African American Troops dies during the war.