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National Gallery of Art to honor 54th Massachusetts Regiment

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During the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment was composed of free black men who volunteered as soldiers to fight against the Confederacy. The infantry regiment, formed after the Emancipation Proclamation, was one of the first black Union Army regiments and participated in battles until the end of the war.

The legacy of the 54th Massachusetts has been long and profound. In 1989, the movie "Glory" told the regiment's story, ending with the soldiers' charge on Fort Wagner in South Carolina in 1863.

Starting in September, the National Gallery of Art in Washington will pay tribute to the 54th Massachusetts with an exhibit commemorating its history as well as the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Wagner.

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"Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment" is scheduled to open Sept. 15 and will feature photographs, documents and other historical artifacts pertaining to the regiment, including a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The title of the show is taken from a letter written to the family of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the white leader of the regiment, informing them that he had been killed in battle at Fort Wagner. (In "Glory," Shaw was played by actor Matthew Broderick. Denzel Washington won a supporting actor Academy Award for his performance as a soldier in the film.)

The exhibition will also feature the Shaw Memorial, which was created in 1900 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The version on view at the National Gallery is a plaster cast of the bronze original.

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"Tell It with Pride" is set to run through Jan. 20. After that, it will travel to the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston from Feb. 23 to May 26.

The National Gallery of Art said it would present a digitally restored version of "Glory" on Sept. 15, with a discussion with the movie's director, Ed Zwick.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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