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How African-Americans in South Carolina invented Memorial Day

Many people are vaguely aware that Memorial Day's origins have something to do with the American Civil War, but the exact origins aren't well known.

In this video, Yale Professor David Blight recounts the very first Memorial Day — organized and undertaken overwhelmingly by the African-American population of Charleston, South Carolina — and how the memory of the black origins of the commemoration came to be suppressed in the postwar years.

Blight's entire series of lectures on the Civil War are an amazing resource for anyone interested in US history. They're all available online for free as part of Yale's Open Courses initiative.