Memorial Day Origins
Disclaimer: I wrote this post last spring on my old blog The Notes of Toni''s Life although I believe this information needs to be shared once more. Just wanted to clarify that I wrote this I hope you enjoy reading.
Memorial Day was started by former African American slaves, therefore African Americans are the reason Memorial Day exists. According to David Blight a Professor at Yale University, the Memorial Day Event began on May 1, 1865. A group of former slaves in Charleston, SC gave a proper burial to 257 Union soldiers who'd been put into a mass grave.
The African American community of Charleston, SC then consecrated the new cemetery with " an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people." The event was initially called "Decoration Day" and was led by 3,000 black school children who began singing the song " John Brown's Body." They were then followed by hundreds of black women with baskets of flowers and crosses. After that, black men marched behind them in cadence, followed by Union infantry. The Union soldiers lived in horrible conditions, and 257 of them died from exposure and disease. This was the reason for the creation of the mass grave site. There was a total of 28 black men that went to the site and re-buried the men properly largely as a thank you for helping fight for their freedom. They also built a fence around the cemetery and on the outside, put the words, "Martyrs' of the Race Course."
Sources: The Grio, Black Blue Dog, & David Blight