Fading History: Buffalo Soldiers

The term “Buffalo Soldier” refers to the Black Soldiers who fought in United States Army between 1866 and 1948. Created in 1866 by an Act of Congress, the first Black members of the segregated U.S. Army consisted of only six regiments regiments . Over time, the number of Black soldiers in America’s army began to grow, and the men who served in these units became known as Buffalo Soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers remained an important part of the military and provided countless contributions to the development of modern America, including serving as the first Park Rangers in Yosemite, Sequoia, and Yellowstone National Parks. They did all this despite having to fight for a nation that brutalized and disenfranchised their people, and they even faced unchecked racism and discrimination from within the military while they served. The term, “Buffalo Soldier” comes from the Cheyenne people, who compared the texture of the Black soldiers’ hair to the hide of buffalo. The Army stopped using the term in 1948 when the it was desegregated by an executive order from President Harry Truman. 

Today, most people know very little about the Buffalo Soldiers. Some scholars are attempting to track and disseminate this history, and in the 21st century the House of Congress has approved funding for a number of monuments commemorating Buffalo Soldiers, but the American public is beginning to forget this difficult history. This podcast and projects like it are an effort to preserve the history and legacy of Buffalo Soldiers. 

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