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Crown Hill Cemetery Hosts More Than 600 IPS Students at Annual Celebration of African-American Efforts During Civil War

Civic and community leaders from across Indianapolis will gather to participate in the 24th annual “Spirit of Freedom” event which celebrates African-American soldiers who fought during the Civil War.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is May 10 from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Crown Hill Cemetery. Crown Hill is the final resting place of more than 225 African-American soldiers who fought for the U.S. Army.

This annual tribute will include interactive historical presentations, Civil War replicas, and a dedication ceremony. The event will feature the Arsenal Technical High School Drum Line, Crispus Attucks High School JROTC Color Guard, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church Lay Male Chorus. Speakers include David Rieck, president of the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, and Dr. Patricia Payne, director of the Indianapolis Public schools (IPS) Racial Equity Office.

In addition to a working Civil War-era Gatling gun, the event also will feature various reenactors portraying historical characters including the Rev. Strong; Sgt. Andrew Smith of the 55th Massachusetts Colored Volunteers; Dr. Gatling, inventor of the Gatling Gun; Harriet Tubman, an agent for the Underground Railroad and spy for the U.S. Army; Sarah Elizabeth Brown Cuffee, a freeborn seamstress; Pvt. Stephen King, a drummer for the 28th Indiana Colored Infantry; and, President Abraham Lincoln.

More than 600 IPS fifth- and sixth-grade students will gain a better understanding of the ramifications of the Civil War during the event.

In partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools, this event is sponsored by Indiana Humanities and presented by Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, Funeral Home and Cemetery.

For more information about Crown Hill, visit