LaRue WestmorlandPaul LaRue and Carl Westmoreland walk through Beech Grove Cemetery in 2017.

Cincinnati Icon passes; championed for Black World War I Soldiers

By Howard Wilkinson
via the WVXU radio station (OH) web site 

Carl Westmoreland, who was the senior historian at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for the past 20 years, died March 10, two days after his 85th birthday.

I had known Westmoreland, who grew up in Lincoln Heights, since his days as a neighborhood activist in Mount Auburn in the 1980s. I have never encountered anyone with the breadth and depth of knowledge of African American history — both in this region and nationally — than this man.

A funeral service for Westmoreland will take place at noon Saturday, March 26, at New Jerusalem Baptist Church, 26 W. North Bend Rd., in Carthage. Visitation will be at the church from 10 a.m. until the time of services.

Below is a column about the extraordinary friendship between Westmoreland and Paul LaRue, a retired social sciences teacher at Washington Court House High School in Fayette County, about 70 miles north of Cincinnati.

—Howard Wilkinson

Carl Westmoreland and Paul LaRue had one of the most unlikely friendships I have ever seen.

Westmoreland, who died March 10 at the age of 85, was a tall, stately Black man of a dignified demeanor, a man steeped in the rough-and-tumble of urban politics who devoted the final 20 years of his life to studying and preserving Black history.

 LaRue, a hard-working social sciences teacher in Washington Court House, Ohio, a middle-aged white man, now retired, taught his small town and rural students to look beyond their own experiences and appreciate the culture and history of people from other times, other places.

They came together because of a passion they shared for making sure the Black men who took up arms to fight oppression in the Civil War and World War I were never forgotten.

And their passion brought them together in 2012 and 2013 at Beech Grove Cemetery, a plot of land on Fleming Road in Springfield Township, about halfway between Wyoming and Finneytown, where a number of Black veterans of World War I have been laid to rest.

LaRue had inspired his students, mostly white, to take part in an extensive search for the final resting places of Ohio's African American soldiers who served in the Civil War and World War I.

Read the entire article on the WVXU web site here:


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