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The Hudson, Ohio veteran who’s speech was censored during a Memorial Day event for speaking about the African-American origins of the holiday has been invited by the American Legion Department of Ohio to speak at an event next week.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter received an invitation from the American Legion Department of Ohio to speak at next week’s Buckeye Boys State, an annual gathering that teaches young men about government.

Lt. Kemter began to share about the origins of Memorial Day and how formerly enslaved people of African descent dug up the bodies of more than 200 Union soldiers who died in the battle of Charleston in order to carry out a proper burial.

White fragility led to censorship

What was initially thought to be an audio malfunction turned out to be an intentional censorship. Cindy Suchan, who chairs the Memorial Day parade committee and is president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, said it was either her or Jim Garrison, adjutant of American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464, who turned down the audio. When pressed, she would not say who specifically did it.

Suchan said organizers wanted this part excluded because it “was not relevant to our program for the day,” and added the “theme of the day was honoring Hudson veterans.”

After a national backlash, the two responsible for organizing the event resigned from their positions. The American Legion Department of Ohio said censoring the speech about the role Blacks played in how Memorial Day was premeditated and planned by Garrison and Suchan.

Telling the truth

Kemter said he wanted to use his speech to share the history of the origin of Memorial Day. Afterward, he noted, he received “numerous compliments” from attendees who told him “it was nice to hear the history.”

To read the script of Lt. Kemter’s speech, click here.

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...

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