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Museum of the Confederacy Shows History of African Americans

Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Ira Quillen

Richmond, VA- The opening of the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox is just days away. The exhibits will tell the story of the Civil War, but it won't just tell the Confederate side. For the past 20 years, the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond has worked to give the African-American perspective, and they plan to do the same thing in Appomattox.

Some people have a feeling about the Confederacy before they even enter the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, and for African-Americans that feeling is often tension.

"What we hear from a lot of African American visitors is that they have a high level of anxiety upon entering the door," said Waite Rawls, executive director for the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.

It is a direct result of the Confederacy's tangled history with slavery. But Rawls says they don't ignore that part of history at the Museum of the Confederacy.

"The participation of the black population in the four years of the Confederacy is critical, and you cannot tell the whole story unless you are telling the story of those people," said Rawls.

The museum shows the role African Americans played in the war.

"The greatest participation blacks had with the Confederate armies were teamsters, cooks, pioneers, engineers, ditch diggers, bridge builders," said Rawls.

The stories at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond will be told in new interactive ways at the Museum of the Confederacy in Appomattox.

Right now, the museum in Richmond uses story-boards, pictures and maps to illustrate stories. But in Appomattox, exhibits may be more like the ones at The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar.

"We have tried to present the war's political, social, and cultural elements from three perspectives, "said Christy Coleman, president of "The American Civil War Center."

But even with the balance, it's challenging to interpret the full story of the Civil War.

"This was a national trauma, and like any trauma you have to go through stages of grief. As Americans, we are at various stages of grief with this story, and this thing that happened a 150 years ago because we have continued to live with its legacies," said Coleman.

The Museum of the Confederacy will open next Saturday.

You can get more information on the museum's website.

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