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Contact: Brent Everitt, 850-934-2600
Gulf Breeze, Fla. – The National Park Service will open a special exhibit this Saturday, December 14, at the Fort Pickens Discovery Center. The special exhibit highlights the 25th United States Colored Troops (USCT) that served in the Pensacola Bay Area during and immediately after the Civil War. The exhibit will be open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through May 15, 2020.
The exhibit will feature life-sized portraits of seventeen members of the 25th USCT, Company G, which were created by artist Shayne Davidson. The portraits are based on a locket-sized photo album which includes a photo of each man and all but one of their names. The original album is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The album was originally shared with Ms. Davidson by the great granddaughter of Captain William A. Prickett, the original owner of the album. “The men in the album bravely participated in a pivotal event in our nation’s history,” said artist Shayne Davidson. “It was a privilege for me to research their lives and create their portraits.” Over a six month period, Ms. Davidson created the incredible portraits and genealogical research on the men, which is displayed next to each portrait.
In addition to the portraits, original artifacts from the USCT will be on display. An 1864 Fort Barrancas Muster Roll lists each of the seventeen men in the portraits as well as the other men of the company. Additional artifacts on display include a harmonica fragment, a book owned by a member of the 25th USCT, a recruitment song sheet, and more. The muster roll and harmonica fragment are two of over 500,000 objects preserved in the park’s museum collection; other objects on display have been loaned to the park for the exhibit.
The temporary exhibit, the first of its kind at Gulf Islands National Seashore, will feature the service of African Americans during the Civil War like never before. “We are proud to host these incredible works of art and artifacts which connect the stories of these brave men to the areas preserved by the national seashore,” said Superintendent Dan Brown. The timing of the exhibit is especially timely as the nation recognizes 400 years of African American history.
The United States Colored Troops were segregated units of black men, led by white officers. The units were formed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 officially authorized African Americans to serve in the US Army. The men of the 25th USCT were among the nearly 180,000 black men to serve during the Civil War. Learn more about the United States Colored Troops and the 25th USCT on the park’s website.
The Fort Pickens Discovery Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years days. It is located in the heart of the Fort Pickens Historic District just a short walk from the historic masonry fort. The center features exhibits on the natural and cultural history of Santa Rosa Island and the defenses built on the island over the centuries.
About Gulf Islands National Seashore: Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. Visit us at www.nps.gov/guis, on Facebook www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/GulfIslandsNPS, Instagram www.Instagram.com/GulfIslandsNPS.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 419 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice and Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice.
Last updated: December 11, 2019