Military history taught from black perspective

Service, sacrifice defines initiative

By Dan Hardin, Staff Writer

On first mention, The Walking Ghost of Black History (TWGOBH) sounds like something from a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
Since 1989, The Walking Ghost of Black History has been a historical and educational organization dedicated to providing the public with comprehensive, reliable information about the sacrifices of African-Americans in the United States military.
This is done through discourse and re-enactment of the actual historical events.
“The organization has a two-fold purpose. The first is the reenactment aspect and the second is a veterans’ outreach program, which is focused on helping veterans at Contra Costa College navigate the education system, monetary compensation, health care and housing,” second-year communications student and military veteran Leon Watkins said.
Watkins, the brainchild of the historical program, said, “TWGOBH was inspired by the motion picture ‘Glory’ in which I was cast as a flag bearer for the national colors, for the Massachusetts 54th Regiment — an all-black regiment.”
Watkins said he spent about three months on the production set of “Glory” along with nearly 3,000 other re-enactors.
His time on the set and the deep well of knowledge around him, created in him and exposed him to a perfect storm of information.
All of this history was at his fingertips and so he began to listen and glean the story of the 54th from his comrades.
Watkins said that his involvement with the re-enactors and his own desire to create a re-enactment group, caught the attention of Freddie Fields.
Fields was producer of the film and he donated 20 Civil War- era uniforms from the movie to the group.
“This was a pivotal moment in the creation of the organization TWGOBH.” Watkins, who founded the organization along with co-founder Larry Thompson, for the past 29 years continued to honor the African-American legacy and contribution to the U.S. armed forces. They do this through an unwavering commitment focused on exposing the truth about the service and sacrifice of African-American soldiers.
“Since the inception of TWGOBH, we have received numerous accolades and honors,” Watkins said.
Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) Instructional Assistant Richard Stollings said, “Leon (Watkins) has been providing outreach services at the Veterans Resource Center. And what I mean by outreach is that he is making sure that the veterans have water and something to eat.”
Former CCC computer science major Gorgon Su said Watkins has been a huge help. “I left to honor my commitment as a military reserve and forgot to register (for classes),” Su said. “Leon put the right people together to make it happen.”