The Greensboro Transit Agency (GTA) is using a new bus design to honor black men who served in the Continental Army and militia at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.
The newly decorated bus will be on display at the 300 block of South Elm Street during the Fun Fourth Freedom Fest downtown on Tuesday, July 4 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The special bus wrap – which is titled “Black Patriots of the Revolution” – includes the names of 33 black men who fought in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Guilford Courthouse that took place in 1781.
The bus artwork also displays the Guilford Courthouse flag that’s believed to have been flown during the battle as well as a battle sketch called “The Calvary Charge.” That illustration includes a soldier on horseback and a copy of a 1784 petition for the freedom of Ned Griffin – a black soldier during the revolutionary war who has an interesting story.
Images for the bus were provided by the Greensboro History Museum and the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Greensboro Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson along with a group of area residents requested the project, which seeks “to honor the contributions of people of color, who are often overlooked participants of the Revolutionary War.”
In addition to being on display downtown on the Fourth, the bus will operate along GTA Route 8 for the first week of July and later across GTA routes citywide so that passengers and others around the city will be able to enjoy the artwork and the sentiment.
One hope is that the bus inspires local residents to learn more about the contributions of black patriots who fought in the battle and in the war. A good place to start learning is at the National Park Service website.
According to that site, “One of the most unique stories to occur with Guilford Courthouse is the events surrounding Edward ‘Ned’ Griffin. Ned was an enslaved man, and came to serve in the army because of another man’s desire to flee his duty. William Kitchin was a deserter from the North Carolina Brigade, and having been caught, he was threatened with the prospect of being returned to service. William had Ned serve in his place, on the understanding that once he finished his service, Ned would receive his freedom. Ned served honorably at Guilford Courthouse but upon his discharge in July 1782, William reneged on their agreement … It took petitioning the North Carolina General Assembly to fix the matter. In 1784, the Assembly granted Ned his freedom for his honorable service, and Ned earned his enfranchisement.”
Those interested in learning more can also google the video “Commemorating the Black Patriots of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.”
For more information about the Fun Fourth Freedom Fest, visit downtowngreensboro.org. The Guilford Courthouse National Military Park has a variety of interpretive programs, tours, and live musket demonstrations on July 4. You can find a full list of activities on the park’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GuilfordNPS.
(Photo above from the City of Greensboro)