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PROFILES: Charles Jameson seeks to uncover the U.S. African American story
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PROFILES: Charles Jameson seeks to uncover the U.S. African American story

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Before becoming President of the Culpeper Minutemen, Charles Jameson had no idea that African Americans fought in the Revolutionary War. 

“We should know more than what we were taught” about African Americans' involvement in American History, Jameson said in a recent interview. 

The Culpeper native has invested his time and effort over recent years to this very effort, working with local government leaders, community representatives and others state-wide to research and share historic information previously unknown.

“African Americans have fought for this country’s freedom with hopes of attaining those freedoms,” Jameson said. “Then they were sent home without the freedoms they had fought for.”

Jameson said what really woke him up was a DNA test he took in 2014, and the research on his family line that gave him membership into the Sons of the American Revolution in 2015.

Jameson's research found that Col. John Jameson, original captain of the Culpeper Minutemen who served under Benedict Arnold, is Charles' uncle several generations back. Charles Jameson's great-grandfather, George Jameson, had mixed race children with Charles' great grandmother, Ada Tutt. George Jameson is a direct descendant of the original Minutemen, as is Charles.

"I like learning about African American history that wasn't taught in public schools," Jameson said. "All races are unaware about African American history, not just African Americans. We all need to be educated on the fight many cultures go through, particularly African Americans, because of slavery."

“The Sons awakened to me a lot of history I was not aware of, especially African American history,” Jameson said.

In 2020 the nation grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic and then the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota law enforcement officer. Anger over this and generations of pent-up frustration resulted in protests demanding action on African American civil rights issues.

During the pandemic, Jameson has made it a personal responsibility to educate the community on African American History. 

“African American History is something to be proud of,’ he said. “Growing up in Culpeper, schools did not offer any of this information that can be found today.”

As part of the nation-wide civil rights protests during 2020, symbols and monuments glorifying the Civil War’s Confederate history have been targeted by the Black Lives Matter movement, with many cities abruptly removing them. Since Floyd’s death the racial reckoning has brought about the removal of 26 Confederate symbols in Virginia—the most in the country. In Richmond alone, 18 were done away with, according to a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

While representing the Culpeper Minutemen, Jameson and other county residents went to the Board of Supervisors to have a Confederate battle flag removed from Culpeper County’s Lenn Park, where it had flown since the park was created in 2006. Brothers Wayne, Edwin and Kaye Lenn, who donated the land to the county for the park and who have devoted their time and thousands of dollars of work toward its improvement, ultimately took the flag down in early August.

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At a gathering to thank the brothers, Culpeper Minutemen Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution presented the brothers with an SAR Bronze Good Citizenship Award and medal.

“Minutemen President Charles Jameson said he hoped to thank the Lenns personally for doing more than county officials ever did related to the park and the flag issue,” an August 17, 2020, Star-Exponent article stated.

“Thank you for making all people feel welcome here,” Jameson said at the time.

Charles Clifton Jameson was born in Culpeper, Va. on June 13, 1947, to father Saint Jameson and mother Elsie Tutt. Jameson spent his entire childhood growing up in Culpeper.

Throughout his adolescence, he attended segregated schools. In 1965 Jameson graduated from George Washington Carver Regional High School.

After attending Virginia Union University and later transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University, Jameson earned his bachelor of science degree in Education in 1970.

Jameson is married and has two daughters. He taught “the importance of education,” as he said, to his daughters. They must have got the message, since both have earned master’s degrees, one from William and Mary and one from Mary Washington University.

Jameson was drafted into the U.S. Army in May, 1970, during the Vietnam War, serving until November 1971 with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Mechanized Unit and 101st Airborne Artillery.

The 11th awarded Jameson with the Purple Heart after he received an injury to his head after a shrapnel explosion during the war. He was also awarded a bronze star from both units for his work compiling data for successful artillery fire.

Upon his return to the U.S. Jameson followed in his father’s footsteps, working alongside his dad doing highway construction for Williams Construction, based in Baltimore, Md. After his father's death in 1972 Jameson became a foreman, then was promoted to superintendent eleven years later. In fact, Jameson supervised construction of the Dulles Toll Road, giving him “great satisfaction,” he said, because it was such a big project.

After retirement Jameson “felt it was important to volunteer his time to several community organizations.”

He became infatuated with American History, and especially the African American story, of which he found hardly anything has been taught. 

Jameson currently serves as President of the Culpeper Minutemen Chapter VASSAR, commemorating the regional militia group formed in 1775.

“SAR members volunteer untold hours of service each year in their local communities,” Jameson said. “We proudly assist classrooms with living history interpreters, lesson planning materials and reenactment events.”

Jamar Billingsley, a student in the communication journalism master's program at Regent University, is a summer intern with the Star-Exponent.

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