An American army veteran had his mic deliberately cut as he spoke about black history during a speech on Memorial Day.

By Phil Keren Akron Beacon Journal

Retired lieutenant colonel Barnard Kemter was midway through his speech at a ceremony in Ohio when he started discussing the freeing of enslaved black people and the role it played in American history.

The microphone was cut off from Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter’s keynote address at a Memorial Day ceremony in Hudson, Ohio as he was starting to talk about the slave origins of the holiday

His speech was largely about honoring America’s Civil War dead but as Kemter moved on to talk about black history, the 77-year-old’s microphone was cut off.

In video footage Kemter can been seen tapping the mic a few times before shouting for help when it became unresponsive.

‘I assumed it was a technical glitch’, Kemter told The Washington Post. He carried on with his speech regardless without the help of the mic, and later learned that the loss of audio was not a glitch, but a deliberate act.

One of the event’s organizers later admitted that the audio had been turned down on purpose, telling the Akron Beacon Journal that Kemter’s words on black history were ‘not relevant to our program for the day’.

‘We asked him to modify his speech, and he chose not to do that’, said Cindy Suchan, president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary.

The Ohio American Legion has since announced an investigation into the reasons for why Kemter was ‘censored’, as he described it.

The Battle of Fort Wagner on Morris Island was the Union attack on July 18, 1863, led by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The infantry was one of the first major American military units made up of Black soldiers

‘I was very disappointed that someone would choose to censor my speech’, Kemter told The Post.

About three days before his speech, he emailed a draft copy of his speech to event organizers and one organizer apparently responded by asking Kemter to revise his speech and ‘leave out the part of history of it’.

Kemter’s mic stopped working when he spoke about the importance of black history in the US (Picture: The Washington Post)

The organizer, whom Kemter declined to name, didn’t specify which paragraphs they wanted removed or why they objected, he said.

As a result Kemter arrived at the Markillie Cemetery on Monday ready to deliver the unedited version speech to a crowd of about 300 people.

Kemter began his speech by talking about how Memorial Day was created after hundreds of thousands of soldiers who died in the American Civil War were in need of a proper burial place.

Then, soon after he began discussing the role that black Charleston residents played in the holiday, his microphone stopped working.

When his calls for help fell on deaf ears, ‘I decided, I don’t need a microphone’, Kemter said.

Kemter said that despite the microphone issue, he has received many messages of congratulations for his speech.

‘A lot of people viewed this as a healing speech and paying a tribute to the African Americans that started Memorial Day’, he said.




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