Buffalo Soldiers




We the African American Association of the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service welcome you to this year Black History Month Celebration. A decade ago we got together and held our first African American Heritage Event in the Ballroom right on the other side on this room. This room is called the Moraga Room. At one time there was a portrait of General Moraga, hanging on that wall - today that portrait is Missing In Action.

We, ladies and gentlemen, must make sure that honest children, women, men and state as clearly as possible the good and the not so good that we all have contributed to the making of this Nation - we call the United States of America. It is important that we are a working village - it takes a village to raise a child. Our culture stems from the Continent where the human race originated - Africa.

African Americans once called Negroes have always played a role in the making of the history of this great Nation. Today, all of us stand tall and proclaim loudly that we are proud children of the women and men of African descent who have made us all proud. African Americans make over 12% of the population of this Nation - about 36 million.

Year after year we have adhered to a theme that we have found comfortable - the Buffalo Soldiers. We can point to Pershing Square and state that General Pershing was called Black Jack and commanded his men with honor - all Black men - known to the world as Buffalo Soldiers. Made famous by many movies and monuments all over this Nation and the world.

Buffalo Soldiers: the best cavalry

We all feel proud that the 9th and 10th Calvary the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments all were stationed here at the Presidio of San Francisco at some time. We remember the over 600 hundred Buffalo Soldiers who are buried at the Veterans Administration Cemetery - just a few hundred feet from this venue - over the hill by the NCO Club now called the Golden Gate Club.

We can look at Pershing Guest House and state that the building and the square that we have already spoken about are named after Black Jack - who commanded the Buffalo Soldiers. We see sites named after Black Jack - but nothing for the Buffalo Soldiers.

The African American Association has clearly stated before that it is right that we name some Street, some building, and some monument in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers.

We have been promised that but we have yet to see the fruition of that promise. African Americans have known to have waited for years for their reward in patience - perhaps, we can wait for some years more in good faith following the example of the Buffalo Soldiers for this monument - or some honorable mention that the Public can attest to at all times - in honor of the best of the best - the Buffalo Soldiers.

In the year 2005 it will be 200 years since President Jefferson formed the Corps of Discovery and sent Lewis and Clark and among them a Negro, Mr. York to trace the great river and see if it meandered all the way to the West Coast.

In 1805 this expedition reached the West Coast and saw the Pacific Ocean and reported the discovery to all and to the United States Congress. At that time the First People roamed freely and what we see now was all owned by the Tribes that moved freely and with much dignity. Their tribal culture intact - speaking many languages and living well with much wealth and peace of mind - good health. Much like many Africans did in Africa before they were brought to his land - against their will.

My friends see what we have done to this land in just 200 years. Gone are many pristine rivers and creeks. Gone are many tribal languages - gone many native plants, animals, and people who lived here for thousands of years.

In the year 2003 we should be a humble people and treat the Earth with much respect. It is important for us to respect ourselves - for in doing so we will learn to respect all life forms. I can assure you from what I have learned - the Buffalo Soldiers respected those they had to deal with. There is NO evidence that in dealing with the Tribes they murdered anyone. This goes against the myth that they murdered Native Americans.

We all know that the Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in the so-called Indian Wars. The Native Americans loved the Buffalo Soldiers and gave them the name after the sacred animal they loved - the Buffalo.

Today we honor the Buffalo Soldiers as we have for the last decade and more. We thank the Presidio Trust and the National Park Service for allowing all of us but more so the African American employees to come together as they have all this years - to praise God, our Nation, and most of all those men, women, and children who have given so much of themselves - for the good of this great Nation.

The Buffalo Soldiers and the many Rosie the Riveters have our special attention today. Let us put our hands together and give them our best. Thank you so very much for bringing so much life to this event.

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya. The Buffalo Soldiers have always been close to my heart. From time to time I like to tell a story - a Buffalo Soldier story. We all know about Alcatraz but most of us do not know that there were many Buffalo Soldiers stationed on Alcatraz.

Since we are in the business of Preservation and Protection - let me talk a little about my African brother - a Zulu Prince from South Africa - Prince Jerger Okoudek, which means, (death leaves one) - Private Thomas W. Taylor of Company H, 24th Regiment - a prominent Buffalo Soldier who was mentioned several times in his day and reported in the San Francisco Call in depth - dated July 2, 1899.

Prior to joining the Buffalo Soldiers he fell in love with the Professor's daughter in London. Her name was Rosella Williams. She was White. If they could not marry with the consent of the faulty they could marry without it, and they did. The ebony Prince and the fair Rosella were wed.

A Buffalo Soldier -
a buffalo coat

Prior to joining the Buffalo Soldiers he fell in love with the Professor's daughter in London. Her name was Rosella Williams. She was White. If they could not marry with the consent of the faulty they could marry without it, and they did. The ebony Prince and the fair Rosella were wed.

It was a marriage that strengthened his love for his people and concentrated his energies toward their upliftment. He began the study of civil and military tactics. To further his knowledge he came to America to discover the modern arts of war. He soon found that actual experience was the quickest school. So he enlisted in the 24th Regiment at Fort Barancas. The prince joined - The Buffalo Soldiers.

After joining the American army, but he kept this fact a secret from his people. It was better for them to think that he was quietly studying our laws of peace and war than to know he was actually courting the dangers of the battlefield.

The ebony Prince joined the United States army that he might gain the knowledge of modern warfare to teach his own people. King Jerger, his father, rules over his court and does not know that his only son and heir apparent is a private soldier in the American army. The Crown Prince of the Zulus risked his life in defense of the flag of the Republic while charging up the hills of San Juan in Cuba.

There is much we all can learn from the African Prince a Buffalo Soldier. There is much we can learn from thousands of Buffalo Soldiers who gave so much so that others may benefit. The West would not have been settled if it were not for the Buffalo Soldiers.

The thousand-mile road from Canada to Alaska would not have been built if it were not for the Buffalo Soldiers. They did much here at the Presidio of San Francisco not only as soldiers, but using their keen sense as engineers and fine art at logistics. They patrolled the Federal Lands today called National Parks such as Sequoia National Park.

Today we think they are all dead but we have many who are still alive in their late 80's and 90's. We owe them much respect but more than that we owe them - love.

Thank you for permitting me in some limited time to travel with you some of the many trails that the Buffalo Soldiers have left an imprint upon.

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