About a year after the 1861 outbreak of the Civil War, the United States government allowed African-Americans like Wiltonians Henry and Samuel Dullivan, George W. Robinson, John James King, and Sherman Roberts to enlist for Union Army service.According to Wilton Bulletin founder and first editor G. Evans Hubbard\u2019s \u201cHistory of Wilton\u201d manuscript, the 29th Connecticut Infantry Regiment was established in 1863 and joined by the Dullivan brothers on Dec. 28, and Mr. Robinson on Jan. 5.Mr. King and Mr. Roberts, both of whom had been enrolled as substitutes, were mustered into the 30th Colored Infantry Regiment in 1864, according to Mr. Hubbard. The regiment was later combined with other African-American regiments to form the 31st U.S. Colored Regiment as part of the IX Corps.The regiment was part of the attacking force at the mine explosion in Petersburg, Va. \u2014 also known as the Battle of the Crater \u2014 on July 30, 1864, during which it lost 136 officers and men, according to Mr. Hubbard.In 1865, the Civil War came to an end and slavery was abolished with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Three years later, the 14th Amendment granted citizenship to former slaves, and in 1870 the 15th Amendment granted African-American men the right to vote. On Sunday, Feb. 22, James Goodman, a history and creative writing professor at Rutgers University, will lead this year\u2019s third scholarly series installment \u2014 \u201cRace Relations and Politics in the Gilded Age\u201d \u2014 at the Wilton Library.\u201cWhen we talk about the Gilded Age, we tend to think of economic growth and political corruption in the North, railroads and stuff like that,\u201d said Mr. Goodman, \u201cbut my lecture is going to be about what was going on with race in the South.\u201d Political participation According to Mr. Goodman, the participation of northern African-Americans \u2014 like Wilton\u2019s 29th and 31st Regiment soldiers \u2014 in the Union Army contributed to southern African-Americans\u2019 desire to continue fighting for equality. \u201cAfter the passage of the 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment, there was a huge upsurge in political activity among African-Americans,\u201d said Mr. Goodman. \u201cPolitics, of course, is where the power in society is worked out and distributed \u2014 how goods and services are allocated; how laws are made \u2014 and African-Americans gained a modicum of political power in the late 1860s and 1870s.\u201d Mr. Goodman said his lecture will, more specifically, focus on \u201cthe effort of white southerners to roll back the gains made by African-Americans in the South and push them out of politics\u201d through \u201cviolence, terrorism and economic coercion.\u201d \u201cIt\u2019s a very sad and frustrating story, but it\u2019s a very important story because there was an effort to create interracial democracy in the United States,\u201d he said. \u201cThere was an opportunity to do that and it became, sadly, an opportunity that was lost.\u201d Because power was found in politics, Mr. Goodman said white southerners believed it was necessary to \u201censure white supremacy\u201d and get African-Americans out of politics. \u201cThat was something they succeeded in doing, but it took a long time,\u201d said Mr. Goodman. \u201cReconstruction ended, formally, in 1877, but it still took another 20 to 30 years before blacks were kept out of politics.\u201d Mr. Goodman said attendees of his lecture will be reminded of the struggle over democracy, equality, voting rights, and political participation in the South. \u201cWhen a lot of people think about the Gilded Age, they sort of forget about the South, which is what a lot of northerners did in this period,\u201d said Mr. Goodman. \u201cNortherners just said, \u2018We\u2019re tired of this. We\u2019re just going to let the southern states take care of this on their own.\u2019 So, I think this lecture will be a reminder of that struggle and that lost opportunity.\u201d Then and now What Mr. Goodman finds most fascinating about the Gilded Age, he said, is \u201chow problems in our own time seem to echo problems back then.\u201d \u201cNot that history repeats itself,\u201d said Mr. Goodman, \u201cbut that we have this problem of race and race intersected with social class that we\u2019re still dealing with.\u201d Although there have been \u201csome huge changes in terms of black elected officials,\u201d like the election of President Barack Obama, said Mr. Goodman, \u201cwe still certainly don\u2019t have a race-blind society or criminal justice system.\u201d There are a lot of similarities between race relations in the Gilded Age and today, according to Mr. Goodman, who said \u201cwe\u2019re still trying to finish the revolution that was set in motion by emancipation and reconstruction.\u201d \u201cThere was tremendous hope in the 1950s and 1960s, with the modern part of the Civil Rights Movement that started with the Montgomery bus boycott and extended all the way to the Civil Rights Act [of 1964],\u201d he said. \u201cWe were having what was called \u2018the second reconstruction.\u2019 That was a decade of real progress in changing of the laws and civil rights and liberties of African-Americans.\u201d Similar to what happened in the 1880s and 1890s, Mr. Goodman said, there was an attempt to roll back African-Americans\u2019 gains in the 1980s and 1990s \u201cwith efforts to dismantle affirmative action, reduce the size of social welfare programs, and of late, the attempt to disfranchise voters by failing to renew the Voting Rights Act [of 1965].\u201d \u201cIf we look back at the 19th Century, there were a lot of lost opportunities, which we then had to deal with in the \u2018second reconstruction,\u2019\u201d said Mr. Goodman. \u201cThere are certainly things that are problems now that we haven\u2019t solved and that we might have solved had we taken a different path towards these 30 years ago.\u201d Mr. Goodman\u2019s scholarly series lecture will begin at 4 p.m. There is no fee, but registration is essential. To register, visit www.wiltonlibrary.org or call 203-763-3950, ext. 213.