RALEIGH, N.C. — As America embarks on four years of Civil War commemorations, it revives an unsettling debate that lingers 150 years after the conflict: how to view the role of African Americans in the Confederacy.

It arose last year when a Virginia textbook was yanked over protests that it inaccurately claimed thousands of blacks served as Confederate soldiers. More recently, a North Carolina community turned down an effort to erect a monument to 10 black men who served the Southern army and later collected Confederate pensions.

Confederate law prohibited slaves from serving as soldiers until March 1865, when it was changed in a last-gasp effort to strengthen troop numbers.

Yet the debate continues bubbling to the surface in many ways.

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