In January 1, 1863 President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect, freeing most slaves in the United States. In 1864 that Kentucky became the last state to allow the enlistment of slaves in the Union Army.
Like many Kentucky-owned slaves, Newton Bush risked his life to escape from his owner and travel to Camp Nelson and enlist in Company E of the 5th Regiment United States Colored Cavalry.
His story, “Reverend Newton Bush: Freedom at a Terrible Price, 1845-1925” will be presented Thursday, Feb. 7, at 12 noon in the J. B. Sowards Theatre on ACTC’s College Drive Campus.
Bush was one of 24,000 men of color from Kentucky who joined the Colored Cavalry to fight for their freedom and a better life for the people they loved. It didn’t take long for those soldiers to discover that joining the Army didn’t result in being treated with respect, but eventually their bravery in battle earned the respect of the white soldiers.
For Bush and the troops in the Colored Cavalry, the fighting didn’t end when the Civil War was over. They had endured slavery and risked their lives to preserve the Union, yet they spent the rest of their days in fear of being harassed and killed while fighting for freedom and equal citizenship.
Newton Bush is portrayed by Robert Bell, a Chautauqua Speaker for the Kentucky Humanities Council.
This Black History Month Program is supported by ACTC and community partners, including the NAACP of Boyd/Greenup Counties, City of Ashland Human Rights Commission, Highlands Museum & Discovery Center, and members of the medical community. For more information, contact Al Baker, ACTC Director of Cultural Diversity, 606-326-2422.