Censored veteran will get another chance to give speech on Black origins of Memorial Day

The American Legion Department of Ohio said it has invited retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter to speak next week at the organization’s Buckeye Boys State

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A retired U.S. Army officer whose speech about freed Black slaves honoring fallen Civil War soldiers was censored by organizers of a Memorial Day ceremony will get another chance to deliver it.

The American Legion Department of Ohio said it has invited retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter to speak next week at the organization’s Buckeye Boys State, an annual gathering that teaches young men about government.

Kemter was speaking at a Memorial Day event hosted by a local American Legion post in northeastern Ohio when his microphone was turned off as he talked about the role Black people played in how Memorial Day began.

n this frame grab from video provided by Hudson Community Television, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter taps the microphone after organizers turned off the audio during his speech at a Memorial Day ceremony, Monday, May 31, 2021, in Hudson, Ohio. (Hudson Community Television via AP)

Two of the event’s organizers later resigned under pressure after Ohio American Legion officials said the decision censoring the speech was premeditated and planned.

The organizers of the ceremony in Hudson, Ohio, initially defended their decision, saying the section of the speech that was silenced was not relevant to the program’s theme of honoring the city’s veterans.

The Ohio American Legion has temporarily suspended the post. A meeting is planned later this month to discuss its future.

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