Friday, May 21, 2010

African American now runs Confederate president's historic site in rural Western Ky.

Between Elkton and Hopkinsville in southwestern Kentucky, along US 68-KY 80, stands a tall concrete obelisk, much like the Washington Monument but somewhat smaller. Like it, this one recognizes the father of a country, but one that didn't last long: Confederate President Jefferson Davis, who was born in the little burg of Fairview in 1809, a few months after Abraham Lincoln, about 125 miles northeast. It's a state historic site, and it's now run by an African American, Ron Sydnor, above, whose ancestors Davis and his allies fought a war to keep enslaved.

"Sydnor said he believes that his ethnicity too will be a plus in his capacity as park manager," Tonya Grace writes for the Todd County Standard. "He said it will give him a chance to dispel some of the myths surrounding the history of the Civil War era, and he noted that black history is intertwined with that history." Sydnor told Grace, “I see myself as a bit of a historian, and this is history.” He has a bachelor’s degree in history with an emphasis on the colonial era through the Civil War. He is a 20-year Marine veteran who was born in Russellville and grew up and now lives in Pembroke, both nearby. He started working in the state parks system five years ago.

Sydnor "observed that African Americans tend to stay away from things that have an association with the Confederate States of America, but he said he hopes to utilize the park as an educational tool “because they need to know” the history," Grace writes.

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