Monday, May 06, 2019

"The Official Story Behind The National Fort Pillow Massacre Wreath Laying Ceremony Movement" #RememberFortPillow #OurStory #BlackHistoryMatters #RighteousAnceSTARS #TellTheirStorySoThatTheAnceSTARSGetTheirGlory #ADOS

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this press release are not the official views, opinions, beliefs or perspectives of  W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News or The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group Inc....W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News is an organization that thoroughly believes in supplementing the information narrative that is usually supplied by the corporate news entities with those viewpoints/expressions which may be marginalized or ignored for a plethora of reasons...We are about informing the general public on alternative perspectives as it relates to news and information and letting the general public be the ultimate judge in deciding on how to use said information...Informed citizens are responsible citizens...Thank you for your support!!!


CONTACT: Ms. Callie Herd, Bro. Ron Herd II

PHONE: 901-299-4355 (Bro. Ron Herd II)



“It Is Now Quite Certain That A Large Number Of Our Colored Soldiers; With Their Officers, Were, By The Rebel Force, Massacred After They Had Surrendered, At The Recent Capture Of Fort-Pillow."
~Abraham Lincoln, 5/3/1864

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News Special Article By Sis. Callie Herd, V.P. of The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc. 

On April 12, 2019, The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc. (WeAllBe) organized an excellent grassroots burial and military service in honor of the African American soldiers that died on April 12, 1864.  The rest of the Union soldiers and unknown soldiers buried in Section B of the Memphis National Cemetery were also honored.  The names of all of the Union soldiers that were killed in action (KIA), wounded in action (WIA), missing in action (MIA) and prisoners of war (POW) were called during the program.   See the attached list of names and read them aloud to give honor to them as well.

I will always be grateful and thankful for Amanda Rhodes (Director) and Calvin Jackson support from the beginning until now in helping to ensure that we were able to have the ceremonies at the Memphis National Cemetery.  I am very grateful to their staff, Howard Hurst and Randall Crow for their help as well along with retired staffer, Willie Jeffreys.  You all are truly appreciated.

I also thank Ronald C. Herd, II aka R2C2H2 Tha Artivist (founder of The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.) for creating and developing the history via visual art, videos, photos, interviews, etc.  His vision of allowing the ancestors to tell their story will always allow us to always "Remember Fort Pillow." This is a testimony on how important to document one's history/information.  Ronald, you are truly appreciated for your dedication to keeping history alive.

Below are the documented videos and photos of the historic event:


The 2019 Remember Fort Pillow National Wreath Laying Ceremony
The soldiers are finally at peace and their spirits have ascended.  At the 1:41:00 mark on the video of the ceremony, you can hear the train in the background coming by to gather all aboard.  The white carnations are glowing and very anointed (see photo took on Sunday, April 14, 2019 to see the glowing of the carnations.

The Descendants Of Surviving Fort Pillow USCTs Perform Ceremony On Sacred Ground

Sunday, April 14, 2019 -- Oh how the carnations are glowing with anointment!

R2's "Remember Fort Pillow" Salute #ADOS #Neverforget #RighteousAnceSTARs

R2C2H2's Photos: 

Tara Hickey's Photos: 

Overview of the National Fort Pillow Massacre African American Soldiers and Civilians Wreath Laying Ceremonies

Mother & Son #RememberFortPillow: Callie Herd & Ronald C. Herd, II At Fort Pillow on Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Fort Pillow journey started  before 2016, the connections with me started when my son, Ronald Herd, II (founder of The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.) read in my mother's encyclopedia the African American history section about Fort Pillow while he was in the 5th grade then fast forward, he met Dr. James Gholson at a book signing and went to dinner and Dr. Gholson told him to visit Fort Pillow around 2010.  Seven years later, Dr. James Gholson connected with Ronald again through joining the Fort Pillow Steering Committee through his connection with Tara Hickey.  (This is how the universe works in connecting us with our destiny.)

Then in 2014, while my son Ronald attended the 50th anniversary of "Freedom Summer" to hear Baba Dick Gregory (keynote speaker) that he met someone that told him about a planning committee being established for the 99th Anniversary for ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) in Memphis that he could join and participate in.  My son told me and we both joined the planning committee.  After serving on the planning committee, I learned about ASALH wanting to re-establish a branch in Memphis through Marvin Phoenix. Marvin was instrumental in helping me to connect with Roy Betts, Sylvia Cyrus, Byron Dunn to help ensure that we had what was needed in order to create a local branch.   Charter members consist of an all-star cast.  Some of the members were:  Deke Pope, Dr. Clarence Christian, Lou Conley, Dorothy Exum, Karen Mallory, Cheryl Floyd, Dr. Deborah Luckett Day,  Dr. David Acey and his wife Mrs.Yvonne Acey, etc.  The Memphis Branch was reestablished during the 100th anniversary of ASALH in Atlanta in 2015.  I met Professor Tinnie during the 99th ASALH conference, but we met briefly during the 100th ASALH conference and Professor Tinnie told me his concerns regarding his group tour of the Fort Pillow Museum during the conference in Memphis and I brought his concerns to the Memphis Branch of ASALH.  Dr. Clarence Christian (President) during March 2016, created a trekking event for us to visit the Museum and provide our opinion so that we could create a plan of action to discuss Professor Tinnie's concerns.  During the trekking, I lose my cellphone and remain at the Museum searching for it and got to know the receptionist Terry.   

      Dr. Gene Tinnie & His WIfe Dr. Wallis Tinnie

                        Ronald, Terry, and Callie

I found out later on that the US Color Troops that fought during the massacre remains were buried at the Memphis National Cemetery during August 1867.  Although I only had less than 3-4 weeks to plan, I began looking into creating a wreath-laying ceremony that would honor the US Color Troop soldiers and civilians on April 12, 2016. I told the branch about my idea and if they would donate the cost of the wreath, I approached Amanda Rhodes about scheduling a wreath laying at the Memphis National Cemetery and she approved.  Calvin Jackson provided me a location for the ceremony.  Because of my volunteering background, I solicited the help of various individuals.  The color guards from Sheffield High School were referred by the late Carol Gentry of OBAP. (sister of Captain Albert Glenn).  The wreath was created by Glenda Davenport.  I got Dr. Christian to perform the occasion.  Ekpe Abioto played the drums.  Ronald Herd played the trumpet.  Some of the Memphis branch of ASALH attended along with other guests such as Calvin Janes (President of Tuskegee Airmen Memphis branch), Will Menton, Thelma Rudd, etc.  I personally thank Dr. Clarence for supporting the wreath-laying ceremonies.  Although it was a vision that I received through the "Holy Spirit" and my desire to give honor to the soldiers and civilians, he did not burst my dream but allowed me to grow with it.

After the ceremony, I was contacted by Yulanda Burgess who was the organizer of the Fort Pillow Massacre descendants that have annual ceremonies at Fort Pillow Historic Park in honor of the soldiers that died in 1864.  She had read about the ceremony in Memphis online.  She is a descendant of Armstead Burgess.  She connected me with Joe Williams, a descendant of Peter Williams.  Joe has been a major supporter and contributor for the wreath-laying ceremonies.  I had the honor of working with his sister the late Daisy Thomas.  She enlisted her son Norris Thomas to work on the steering committee.  He has been a big supporter since he started.  Daisy provided the following photo of her great grandfather, Peter Williams below: (Peter Williams’ descendants have over 800 years of military service collectively.)  Aisha Raison also had a great-great grand uncle, Coleman Payne, who died during the Fort Pillow massacre.  David Waters is also a descendant of John Armstrong Waters who fought at Fort Pillow prior to the Massacre of 1864.  He was a Union soldier.  I also found out that Dr. Anthony Bush’s great-great-grandfather was at Fort Pillow, not in the massacre, but arrived the next day.
US Color Troop/Union soldier, Peter Williams

Below are brief interviews by two descendants: Yulanda Burgess and Aisha Raiston interviews:


2017 Wreath Laying Ceremony

WeAllBe decided to organized a grassroots Fort Pillow Massacre Commemoration & National Wealth Laying Ceremony from April 11-12, 2017.  The Memphis branch of ASALH agreed to participate in the wreath laying portion of the event and helped co-sponsor the wreath with The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.  The commemoration included a memorial service at Christian Fellowship Church MB (old East Trigg Baptist Church) (Pastor Melvin Campbell and Pastor Beasley), wreath-laying ceremony at Memphis National Cemetery, Art Show entitled "Using Our Art To Tell Our Stories:  We Remember Fort Pillow!" (click the link to view photos of show)  at Art Village (Sheila and Ephraim Urevbu).  The artists were Frank D. Robinson, Carl E. Moore, Marion Wilson, Walter Andrade, Darlene Newman,  R2C2H2 Tha Artivist (aka Ronald C. Herd II), Roy Hawkins,Jr.,  two students from Prof. Phil Dotson's art class at LeMoyne Owen College, Descendants luncheon at LeMoyne College and panel discussion including the honorable Judge Joe Brown and concluding with a documentary film screening on Fort Pillow by Dr. Garceau at Rhodes College.  Sargent William Jones was instrumental in securing the color guards from the military and helping with the military portion of the program along with Norris Thomas.

While preparing for the 2017 ceremony, during December of 2016, I was contacted by Lyndon Comstock (a professional grave finder of African American soldiers during the Civil War) who provided me with the actual location of the 109 graves that represented the remains of the US Color Troops that were massacred at Fort Pillow on April 12, 1864.  The cemetery through Calvin Jackson provided the graves’ location along with Comstock.  This allowed us to have a wreath-laying ceremony in the right location to honor the soldiers.

We had a very powerful steering committee.  The members were Ronald Herd II, Lizzie Taylor, Deke Pope, Dr. Clarence Christian, Yvonne Acey, Dr. James Gholson, Joe Williams, Norris Thomas, Daisy Thomas, Yulanda Burgess, Lish Burgess, Lois Webb, Garrett Webb, Major Colburn, Tara Hickey, Jackie Murray, Commander Nancy Harper, Sargent William Jones, Lewis Moore, Stanley Campbell, Karyn Crawford, Thelma Rudd, Carolyn Michael Banks, Ekpe Abioto, Dorothy Exum, Deborah Luckett Day, Susanne Jackson, Dr. Dee Garceau, Aisha Raison, Patricia Lee, Cedric Moore, Robert Bell, Jeffrey Jones, Deborah Faith Taylor Farrow, Patrica Maxwell Brewer, Earnestine Jenkins, Malvin Massey and I was the project lead.  The owner, Stanley Campbell allowed us to hold most of our meetings at the "House of Mtenzi". Although she was not on the committee, I solicited the help of Billene Durham to help me get NJ Ford and EH Ford funeral homes.

The sponsors/donors were White Chapel Church, Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Joe Williams, Deborah Faith Taylor Farrow, Dr. James Gholson, Yulanda Burgess, Thelma Rudd, Lois Webb (made most of the deserts), Larry Batchlor, Memphis Branch of ASALH, The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group Inc., Chick-fil-A, Uncle Lou's Chicken,  and Fazoli.

(Below photos taken by Cynthia McKinney)


The wreath laying ceremony included a military ceremony that was long overdue for the US Color Troops and civilians.  It included the funeral homes donating limousines, the military providing the Color Guards through Sargent Willie Jones, the Memphis Police department providing the horses with one representing the "Riderless Soldier," Ekpe Abioto performing the Libation, singing of "Strange Fruit," Charly Wells performing TAPS. The carnations were made by Kirby High School through Commander Nancy Harper of the American Legion.  Tara Hickey guided the students in making the carnations and few of the AARP members of Cordova volunteered with the students. On the day of the ceremony, I found out that a fellow Hamiltonian, Willie Jefferys worked at the cemetery and he gave us his full support in ensuring that the event was a success along with his other co-workers.

In 2018, we had a national wreath-laying ceremony on April 12th that was similar to the program in 2017.  Cequita McKennley and Deborah Gleese Barnes were added to the steering committee. 

Sponsors/Donors were:  Joe Williams, New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (Pastor Paul Reed), State Representative Reginald Tate, Deke Pope, Dr. Deborah Luckett Day, Pastor Charlie Caswell, Memphis ASALH, The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.

We also had a historical marker revealed on Juneteenth, June 19, 2018, at the Memphis National Cemetery.  Below are details on the marker:

In 2018, The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc. organized a text committee that consisted of Andrew Ward (author of "River Run Red"), Dr. Bobby Lovett (award-winning author, historian, speaker and retired professor of Afro-American history), Dr. James Gholson (author, historian, and principal clarinetist of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra), Lyndon Comstock (author, historian and researcher), Ronald Herd II (R2C2H2 Tha Artivist & founder of The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.), Callie Herd (Project Lead and Vice-President, The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.)  along with Joe Williams and Yulanda Burgess, descendants participating as defendants.  We received special input on the text for the marker from Professor Tinnie (African American historian), and Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (President of ASALH).  The Shelby County Historical Commission under the guidance of Jimmy Ogle helped us work on the text and provided feedback prior to our final   approval by the Senior Historian at the National Cemetery Association (NCA).  Special thanks to Amanda Rhodes, executive director of the Memphis National Cemetery along with Calvin Jackson. The sponsors of the marker were The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc., Memphis ASALH, Dr. James Gholson, Andrew Ward, USCT, Joe Williams, Yulanda Burgess, and descendants.

A historical marker was placed at the National Cemetery on Juneteenth, June 19, 2018, in honor of the African American soldiers and civilians that died on April 12, 1864, during the Fort Pillow Massacre.


Tha Artivist Speaks:

I, Ronald C. Herd II aka R2C2H2 Tha Artivist, have been well aware of the Fort Pillow Massacre tragedy since elementary school. I did not learn about this tragedy in school but in the comfort of a loving home. My maternal grandmother, the late great Mrs. Hattie Mae Taylor, had a World Book Encyclopedia Special Edition Black History Volume. Although it was printed in the 1970s, the information I found in it was very much relevant to me growing up in the early 90s. I love reading biographies and history at a very early age. I also love sharing what I learn with others. One of my favorite movies, when I was 10-11 yrs of age, was the award-winning film “Glory” which told the amazingly true story of the legendary 54th U.S. Massachusetts Regiment, the first U.S. Colored Troops regiment to see action during the American Civil War. I loved the movie so much that I brought the videotape to school to share with my classmates. The movie was shown in the school’s library. My classmates thoroughly enjoyed it as well. I can vividly remember my freshman year in college that a major donor of the school I attended told me that his hero was Nathan Bedford Forrest. Being that I am from Memphis, that I am aware of Forrest’s involvement in the massacre and of his complex legacy, I was surprised that this wealthy old white man would share this information with me. However, I have no hard feelings and my involvement in this ‘Remember Fort Pillow’ project and movement only solidifies the fact that it was all part of “God’s Plan.”   

SiSTAR Callie Herd's 2nd Revelation:

After going to New Orleans in 2018 during the Christmas Holiday and visiting the Whitney Plantation (additional photos) in New Orleans, I knew through the holy spirit and ancestors that the 2019 national wreath-laying ceremony theme would honor the US Color Troops with burial and military ceremony.  2019 would be 155 years since the massacre and it would help to be soldiers at peace.

The ceremony included placing approximately 300 or more carnations in honor of the US Color Troops and their other Union Soldiers that fought at Fort Pillow along with other unknown soldiers in Section B of the cemetery.  The reason was that the soldiers had never received a burial service and now was the time for the soldiers to be placed in peace along with cleansing the land with peace, forgiveness, joy, happiness, and unity.   The service involved almost 20 ministers, funeral homes donating limos with drivers.  The reading of the names by the ministers and funeral home representatives along with Wiley Henry, Jackie Murray, and African American civil war museum representative.  The sheriff department providing a motorcade representative.  The Memphis police department providing the tactic unit to perform the 21-gun salute.  Ekpe Abioto performing the Libation services.  Professor Tinnie and his wife Dr. Wallis Tinnie bringing the dirt from Fort Pillow and placing in the ground of the soldiers.  Jackie Murray dressing as Harriett Tubman and singing a tribute song.  Dr. Alvin McKinney (saxophonist) performing the National Anthem and TAPS.  He also performed LIft Ev'ry Voice and Cequita McKennley led the song with the audience.  Words of Expression by Commissioner Eddie Jones, State Representative GA Hardaway, Professor Gene Tinnie, Joe Williams, Yulanda Burgess, and Robby Tidwell, manager of Fort   Pillow Historic Park.  The Mistresses of Ceremony were:  Carolyn Michael Banks and Patricia Lee.  Prayers and invocation performed by Pastor Larnce Wright, Pastor Bartholomew Orr, Pastor Johnnie Moor, and Dr. LaSimba Gray. Special thanks to Dorothy Exum for creating the soldiers' list and Colby Mitchell for creating the program.

I send out a special thanks to Jason Johnston of Roller Funeral Home who went beyond helping me to ensure that I had enough limos for the event,  They provided two limos and he personally called RS Lewis owner to get one more additional home and they did,  I am grateful to the owner, Charles Fowler for donating the limos.  RS Lewis provided two limos.  Jason worked almost midnight on April 11th assisting me. Leonard Blakely was also very helpful and dedicated to securing the chairs from his church First Baptist Lauderdale.  I thank Commissioner Eddie Jones for using his truck to deliver the chairs,  Both worked endlessly in getting the chairs in place on April 12th.  Special thanks to Myrna Ford for ensuring that EH Ford participated with a limo and representative.  I am grateful for having State Senator GA Hardaway suppose.  He did like in the olden days of assuring that his word was his bond.  He provided the catering needed for the repast services.  I will also be forever grateful for Carolyn Micheal Banks for coordinating the motorcade and donating her tour bus, "A Tour of Possibilities for the event.  I thank Tara Hickey and Janice Ousley for helping her.  I am also grateful to Ellen Collins who was the over the hostess and helped me in preparing the graves with carnations.  She also assisted in making the carnations with the   youths.  I am very thankful for the help and support of Patricia Lee for bringing the elders (Mother King and Minister Yahweh) and her grandkids.


Bellevue Baptist Church, Brown Missionary Baptist Church, White Chapel Church, American   Legion/Commander Nancy Harper, State Representative GA Hardaway, Chow Time, Leonard Blakely, Dr. James Gholson, Lyndon Comstock, Joe Williams, Loistean Webb (Desserts), Memphis ASALH, and The W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Group, Inc.

Creation of Carnations:

Kirby High School JROTC and Brown Missionary Baptist Church


Rachel Flowers, Brown Missionary Baptist Youths, Glenda Davenport Florist, Descendants, etc.

First Baptist Lauderdale

Cynthia Place

Sheriff Department Motorcade and Memphis Police Department Tactic Unit:
Sheriff Floyd Bonner, Chief Michael Rallings and Deputy Chief Micheal Hardy

Color Guards:
8th Military Police Company in Millington, TN

Reading of Names:

Pastor Bartholomew Orr, Pastor Johnnie Moore, Dr. Deborah Luckett Day, Dr. LaSimba Gray, Jr., Reverend Carrie Moore Black, Reverend Odie Williams (descendant of Peter Williams), Dr. Keith Norman, Minister Deborah Faith Taylor (Farrow), Reverend Larnce M. Wright, Pastor Chester L. Berryhill, Reverend Dr. Almella Starks-Umoja, Chaplain Leroy Davis, Reverend Fred Morton, Reverend John Gray, Army Lieutenant Colonel James Griffin, and Reverend Bethel L. Harris, Jr.

Funeral Home Representatives:
Charles Fowler, Ike Fisher, Lee Dunn, Cloice Chapman, Willie Johnson, Virgil Howard, and Jason Johnston 

          Funeral Homes
EH Ford, Roller, RS Lewis, Superior, and MJ Edwards

Funeral Homes (planned, but funeral engagements)
NJ Ford & Harrison

Please note, if I did not mention your name, I do thank all that have supported us on this journey to give honor to the soldiers and civilians.  Your support is greatly appreciated. This has been an amazing journey that was ordained and meant to happen. I am glad that we connected to give the soldiers and civilians their overdue honors of burial and military services. I also thank each of you from the bottom of my heart. The seeds have been planted to heal the world.

#WEALLBE TV Playlist: Never Forget The Fort Pillow Massacre & 1st KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford ForREst #BlackLivesLost #BlackHistoryMatters

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