PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new exhibit at the City County Building in Pittsburgh is celebrating Black History Month. It honors African Americans who served in the military during the Civil War.

The City County Building has been transformed into a temporary museum. “A Call To Freedom” honors the role of African Americans in the Civil War.

Pittsburgh historian John Ford has one of America’s largest collections of African American artifacts. One poster followed the Emancipation Proclamation.

“About 189,000 Africans fought in the war,” Ford said. “And from this area, Pennsylvania, 89,000.”

Exhibit organizer Chay Tyler shares little known facts about black sailors.

“They were inside the Navy inside of 1860 to 1862, before the Emancipation Proclamation was put into place,” said Tyler. “Because at that time, the Navy was integrated, and all sailors were paid the same amount of money at that time.”

Contributions in medicine, surgeons like Alexander Augusta and nurses like Susie Taylor saved countless lives in makeshift hospitals.

On the other hand, Ford’s collection includes a letter from a plantation owner who lost a slave in service to the Confederacy.

But for those who won the war, the contributions were priceless.

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