Camp Nelson lecture series to commemorate local Black history

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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Black History Month is here, and Camp Nelson National Monument is here to celebrate Black Americans and inform all central Kentuckians about its history.

During its second annual winter lecture series, the national park is holding a few speakers as the first big event counting down to its 160th anniversary.

One of these speakers, in particular, will focus on the Civil War as it fits into the longer war for racial justice.

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All events are free of charge and will all take place at the Jessamine County Public Library at 600 S Main St.

“We want to talk about [Black history] every day, every week, every month,” said Steve Phan, chief of interpretation, education and visitor services at Camp Nelson.

For Black History Month, the lecture on Saturday, February 25, is the “big one,” according to Phan.

That Saturday, From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Dr. Holly Pinheiro, Jr. will be speaking.

He is an assistant professor of African American history at Furman University and the author of “The Families’ Civil War: Black Soldiers and the Fight for Racial Justice.”

In his lecture, Dr Pinheiro will provide accounts of the lives of African American soldiers and the whole of their families. His lecture’s main argument is that the Civil War was only a battle in the long war for racial justice.

“By 1863, the Civil War provided African American Philadelphians with the ability to expand the theater of war beyond their metropolitan and racially oppressive city into the South to defeat Confederates and end slavery as armed combatants. But the war at home waged by white northerners never ended.” Reads Dr. Pinheiro’s book synopsis.

Phan said this will be a “very powerful” presentation.

Shortly after Dr. Pinheiro’s lecture will be an event called “Covering HiSTORY: African American Genealogy”; this event will be led by Pamela Lyons Brinegar, a Lexington-based, board-certified genealogy researcher, writer, and lecturer specializing in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

This event is an introduction to researching genealogy and the methods and resources needed for progress. Attendees much register to attend at

Camp Nelson will hold a more hands-on genealogy event on March 11 with the Jessamine County Public Library (JCPL).

The winter lecture series also includes Director of Research and Collections at the Kentucky Historical Society, Stuart Sanders, and the historian and author of over twenty books, including the definitive biography of General Ambrose Burnside, William Marvel.

A local piece of Black and American history

Camp Nelson was established by the U.S. Army in the middle of the Civil War in April 1863, almost 160 years ago. The site quickly became a training facility for African American soldiers and a refugee camp for their families. Camp Nelson was also a shelter for civilians fleeing war and African Americans seeking freedom from slavery.

The U.S. army would use Camp Nelson to launch their offensive from Camp Nelson into Knoxville to liberate the region.

Camp Nelson is one of the newest units of the National Park Service.

Phan wants central Kentuckians to know that they’ve got a national park in their backyard.

“This is your space as well. We want to get people engaged and help us really build up this new site,” he said.

As an important site of the Civil War, Phan said that more than a century later, the history of this site and the Civil War, in general, is relevant to understanding the state of race relations in the country today.

For more information on the lectures mentioned above events, visit

Camp Nelson National Monument is located at 6614 Danville Rd. in Nichoalsville.