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In April 1865, the Civil War was coming to a close. Robert E Lee had surrendered to US Grant. He later begged the southern states to join the Union and be one nation again. Johnson finally surrendered to Sherman, leaving only one major Confederate general to surrender, which he eventually did. Lincoln was assassinated, leaving the nation who would lead the reconstruction effort, but most importantly, how to do it.

The how question was answered May 2 at St Pauls Methodist Church in Alexandria, VA. After the Sunday morning service, communion was to be served. People would come the altar to pray, then receive communion. Blacks, who sat at the back in their own section, did not participate.

With the war over, an elderly black man got up first, walked down the aisle to kneel at the altar, and prayed. This had never been done, and everyone, including the minister, had no idea what to do. After a minute of awkward silence and confusion, a white man with flowing...

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