The Colored Troops Education Project (CTEP) was launched by the John G. Riley Center and Museum as part of its efforts to generate an appreciation of the contributions of African-American soldiers and civilians during the Civil War, particularly among our youth, through educational programming. This educational program offers a vital approach to expressing identity, validating existence, and broadening the understanding and appreciation of diverse audiences.
The program is built around the African-American Soldiers who fought with the Union forces during battles such as the Battle at Natural Bridge, which took place eight miles south of Tallahassee Florida. Through this effort, the Riley House has been able to tell the stories of the 2nd and 99th Infantry Regiments of the United States Colored Troops (USCT). These African American Soldiers led the charge in this battle that resulted in a Confederate victory. This afforded Tallahassee to become the only Confederate capital east of the Mississippi River to not to be captured by Union forces during the war. For thirty three years, this Battle had been reenacted without the representation of those USCT units who fought there on March 6, 1865. In Feb 2010, the Riley Center/Museum entered a partnership with the National Bridge Historical Society (NBHS) to tell the African American perspective in this Civil War Battle.
The Riley Center/Museum developed the CTEP to engage residents of Tallahassee and throughout the state in an official commemoration of this historically significant time period in a new way that enlightens and educates through provocative discussions, observation and interpretive activities relevant to this time period and the battle. As a result, the CTEP has produced several products to:
- Engage Floridians in sharing information about colored troops who fought during the civil war,
- Host events that depict the contributions of the colored troops who fought not only to unite the country but also for the freedom of Americans of African descent
- Engage others in creating a balanced, well-rounded and broad-minded perspective of the battle and the Civil War, both Union and Confederacy, for the benefit of society in general, and
- Help eliminate the debilitating effect of lack of knowledge and historical facts.
To date, the CTEP has successfully integrated several products into Florida communities and expanded opportunities for the teaching of African American History during the Civil War. This includes:
- Brochure about the United States Colored Troops and battles fought in Florida
- Lesson plans for 4th graders
- Informational sessions and Outreach events throughout the state of Florida
- Reenactments and living history demonstrations to local communities and schools throughout the state.
These products promote the accomplishments of these soldiers and their families, and provide a perspective of the dress attire, family life, housing, race relations, migration and settlement patterns, political and economic issues, and educational opportunities during the Civil War era.