Today is MLK Day. I love this day because I truly admire Martin Luther King, Jr, and his courage and grace he displayed while addressing the cultural issues of his day.
When I lived in Georgia and was teaching, I would take my students to his childhood home on Auburn Avenue, his home church Ebenezer Baptist, and the MLK Center in Atlanta every year. Every time I went I was inspired.
This year, I’m not in Georgia and I miss being there for this annual celebration.
However, I was excited to learn something new from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. today, History.com and the NPS. I learned about the Buffalo Soldiers.
History.com says, “Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War. In 1866, six all-black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Their main tasks were to help control the Native Americans of the Plains, capture cattle rustlers and thieves and protect settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and railroad crews along the Western front.”
In the many years that followed, the Buffalo Soldiers continued to faithfully serve the US in many battles. They also served as US Park Rangers. Even though they faced “blatant racism” and harsh weather conditions they served our country heroically. “The Buffalo Soldiers had the lowest desertion and court marshal rates of their time.” Many of the soldiers won The Congressional Medal of Honor which only honors those who display the highest level of combat valor which goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Our country has a strange and confusing history when it comes to human and civil rights. The Buffalo Soldiers who were involved in helping the US Government with the “Indian Problem” is evidence of that. We are all caught up in the cultural norms and issues of our day and it’s risky to look back in history and judge people for their involvement in the culture and issues of their day. We can’t fully understand their motives and pressures.
However, we are always in need of people of character and courage. Thank you, MLK, Jr.
Thinking about you, Buffalo Soldiers.
Peace and equality,