Black Military History

Kentucky cultural center recognizes African Americans who served in the military

GLASGOW, Ky. — “Black History in the Barrens: Those Who Served in the Military” is an exhibit that is currently on display in the Christeen Snavely Art Gallery at the South Central Kentucky Cultural Center off Water Street.

The exhibit tells the stories of those from the Barrens, which is composed of Allen, Barren, Hart, Metcalfe and Monroe counties, who have served in the military from the Civil War to present day.

Included in the exhibit are photographs and various pieces of military memorabilia. Some of which are from the museum’s collection and some of which are on loan to the museum from members of the community.

“We have people who served in World War I. We highlighted Ovester Chism because he served in the 369th, which we learned was the Harlem Hell Fighters,” said Sherry Wesley, executive director of the museum.

The Harlem Hell Fighters, a black military unit, was formed just prior to World War I in 1916.

“Blacks were typically used for menial labor. It wasn’t believed that they would make good soldiers, and there was also the concern if we trained them in combat techniques what would they do when they came back. There was a little bit of fear there because of the racial issues, especially World War I time,” she said. “The same idea, I think, with the Civil War. I learned from the Civil War the name that was familiar to me was Stephen Landrum. I didn’t know he also had served in the Civil War.”

Landrum enlisted at the age of 18 and went later to work at a factory.

“He bought and sold real estate and became quite a wealthy gentleman. He donated land for the building of the Glasgow Training School,” she said. “That eventually evolved into the Ralph Bunche School that we know today. He did a lot for the community.”

The exhibit, which will be up through the middle of March, is just one way the cultural center is recognizing Black History Month.

Two retired servicemen, Lt. Col. Donzell Moody and Chief Master Sgt. Joe Trigg, were set Saturday afternoon to talk about the contribution black servicemen have made to the military, plus share a little about their own military experiences.

“I will go all the way back to the War of 1812 up through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and show how significant contributions have been made to the military,” Moody had said before the discussion.

Moody, who was born in Mississippi and now lives in Bowling Green, spent 22 years in the Army. His service entailed training and mobilization readiness.

In his final assignment prior to retirement, he was senior project manager tasked with the construction of a multi-million dollar tactical training base designed to train soldiers, civilians and foreign nationals in support of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Trigg, who is from Glasgow, planned to talk about the contributions made to the military during his time of service.

Trigg, a former Glasgow City Council member, served 28 years with the Air Force, retiring in 2007 after reaching the highest enlisted rank of chief master sergeant in 2002.

He served on United States Secret Service Very Important Personnel Protective Support Agency missions for five U.S. presidents, as well as numerous other dignitaries and heads of state around the world and received multiple military and civilian decorations/awards.

Information from: Glasgow Daily Times,

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