Here's an interview I did with Steve Inskeep (who has crazy skills) to mark the Atlantic's Civil War issue. You can also read the transcript here. The original article is here.
I'd like to clear up one quick thing. I've gotten some pushback on the following quote:
"If you tour the battle parks and you look at the monuments, they're dotted with monuments to the Confederate dead," he says. "I'm sure there's one somewhere, but I've never seen a monument to any of the colored troops who fought in the Civil War."
Several people have pointed out the monument on the Boston Commons to the 54th, as well as the awesome African-American Civil War Museum and Memorial. I actually did a video discussing the latter which you can see here.
To be clear, I was discussing my tour of battlefields and the lack of African-American visitors. I was not making an absolute statement i.e. "There are no memorials to blacks in the Civil War in the country." If you check out the audio that section starts with Gettysburg and ends with Petersburg, both of which I visited (and blogged about here and here.) I think in that context, the quote stands up just fine.
With that said, I do wish I'd mentioned the monument at Vicksburg (which I haven't visited) and the Memorial in DC because they are actual examples of what can be achieved. They deserve to be brought into any conversation of African-American memory and the Civil War.
MORE: In my zeal to clarify, I forgot to mention this excellent piece from All Things Considered, featuring our own James Bennet touring the portrait gallery with Michele Norris and a couple of the house historians. Great stuff. Especially Bennet's read on Hawthorne.