25th Annual “Spirit of Freedom” Civil War Program

Join us for the 25th Annual “Spirit of Freedom,” a celebration of the many thousands of African Americans who fought during the Civil War. These U.S.C.T. (United States Colored Troops) represented one-tenth of the Union Army, a little-known fact of our Civil War history. Of the 1,537 members of the U.S.C.T. who fought for Indiana, 225 are buried within the Crown Hill National Cemetery.

During this highly educational event, up to 1,000 fifth-grade Indianapolis Public School students will rotate between three stages in a large meadow as Civil War reenactors share first-person accounts of their character’s experiences and stories of other important African Americans who had a major impact upon the outcome of the Civil War. 

We are pleased to announce the participation of the Arsenal Technical H.S. Drum Line, which will play at the beginning of the ceremony. The popular Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet H.S. JROTC Color Guard will present the Colors.

Students will be greeted by David Rieck, Crown Hill Foundation and Cemetery President; Dr. Aleesia Johnson, Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent; and Pat Payne, Director, Racial Equity, Indianapolis Public Schools.

Reenacted characters participating in the event will include Rev. Strong (Master of Ceremonies); Sgt. Andrew Smith of the 55th Mass. Colored Volunteers; Dr. Richard Gatling, Inventor of the Gatling Gun, who will be performing Gatling Gun firing demonstrations; Harriet Tubman, UGRR Agent & Army Spy; Sarah Elizabeth Brown Cuffee, a freeborn lady, and seamstress; President Abraham Lincoln, Civil War President who brought an end to slavery; and Pvt. Stephen King, 28th Indiana Colored Infantry Drummer. In addition, the Lay Male Chorus will be performing at 10:45 a.m.

“Spirit of Freedom” is proudly presented by Crown Hill Foundation, along with Crown Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery, in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools. It is sponsored by Indiana Humanities.

This event is FREE and open to the public.

Enter Crown Hill’s 34th St. & Boulevard Pl. gate (3400 Boulevard Place) and follow the traffic cones to the event site. Please bring a blanket or folding chair to sit on, and a picnic lunch if desired. “Spirit of Freedom” will be canceled in the event of rain.



Tuesday, May 9
  • Free

  • 10:30am - 1:00pm