Hand in hand for history

A diverse group of Shreveporters, ranging from African-American ministers and civil rights activists of the '60s to members and officers of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and the Sons of Confederate Veterans worked together in 1999 to honor one of the forgotten figures of the Reconstruction Era, C.C. Antoine. Antoine, the third black lieutenant governor of Louisiana and a captain in the Union Army, died in Shreveport in late 1921, and over the decades the marker at his grave at the Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in west Shreveport disappeared. Thanks to the efforts of historians Gary Joiner and Eric Brock, state Rep. Cedric Glover and Chuck McMichael, Northwest Louisiana Brigade Commander of the SCV, a new tombstone was secured for Antoine's grave and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on 31 May, 1999. Identifiable people in this picture include (front row) Bobbie Corner, in blue dress; Maj. Ivory Irvin, director of Army Junior ROTC and color guard at Fair Park High School, in uniform; Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church historian Seborn Thomas, with cane; historian Willie Burton, hand on tombstone; Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church pastor Rev. Stanley Bennett, hands clasped; (back row) NW Louisiana Brigade Commander, SCV, Chuck McMichael, gray coat; John Andrew Prime, member-at-large, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, white shirt, by McMichael; historian Eric Brock, center; state Rep. Cedric B. Glover, with sunglasses, behind Burton; and historian Gary Joiner, between Glover and Bennett.

The effort, which took over three years to realize, is an example of how well-intentioned people with often startling differences of opinion and historical perspective can agree to disagree and yet accomplish public good with respect and civility.

Perhaps the opposing forces arguing at this time, early 2000, in Charleston, SC, can learn from their example.

© 2000 John Andrew Prime. All rights reserved E-mail comments, corrections, updates and suggestions to John Andrew Prime.