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Black History Month Songs-1: Buffalo Soldiers

I got the idea for this and possibly other related music-themed posts from the West Hempstead Historical Society's display in the lobby of the West Hempstead Post Office. For those that know my love of music, it'll be no surprise that there's a song involved. In fact, as soon as I saw the Buffalo Soldier piece (see below), I started playing Bob Marley's classic and finished enjoying the rest of the display's contents...Looking ahead to future posts...the display included information about a time Dr. Martin Luther King visited our hamlet...Come back and let's learn together...

As this month unfolds, I expect to learn more about the history I wasn't taught as I was being schooled...(I'm 75)...Parents and grandparents, let's take time to teach ourselves and our children our true history.

As I learned, what caught my early attention was that these Black soldiers - an already oppressed people - were being used by those in power to control another group of already oppressed peoples: this land's original indigenous inhabitants. Some of these Buffalo Soldiers saw military service as a possible avenue to gain respect and also earn a decent income for their families. Unfortunately, from their founding in 1866, it would take another 100 years before the Civil Rights Act was enacted.

George Washington, himself a slave owner, saw legislative action as the only way slavery was to be abolished. And, even before this was to happen, the hearts of individual people - you and me - have to change.

Origin of the Name "Buffalo Soldier"

"One theory claims the nickname arose because the soldiers’ dark, curly hair resembled the fur of a buffalo. Another assumption is the soldiers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the Indians revered them as they did the mighty buffalo." [Source]

Either way, these men included this imagery in the various versions of of their insignia:

In a hurry? Watch this video...

--includes these Executive Orders:

Black History Month

Black History Month originated in 1926 and was finally recognized by the US government in 1976.

These next three images are only part of the aforementioned lobby display.

National Buffalo Soldiers Memorial Day July 28

National Buffalo Soldiers Museum Houston, Texas


Juneteenth is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of enslavedAfrican Americans. Deriving its name from combining "June" and "nineteenth", it is celebrated on the anniversary of General Order No. 3, issued by Major General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, proclaiming freedom for slaves in Texas.[7] Originating in Galveston, Juneteenth has since been observed annually in various parts of the United States, often broadly celebrating African-American culture. The day was first recognized as a federal holiday in 2021, when PresidentJoe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law after the efforts of Lula Briggs Galloway, Opal Lee, and others.

2023 Black History Month Theme: BLACK RESISTANCE

"Buffalo Soldier" is a reggae song written by Bob Marley and Noel "King Sporty" Williams and recorded by Jamaican band Bob Marley and the Wailers. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became one of Marley's best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the black US cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the American Indian Wars after 1866. Marley linked their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.

"In the song, Marley sheds light on the remarkable bravery and courage of the black soldiers in the Indian Wars while at the same time lamenting on the oppression that the black man was subjected to in the same country he fought for and helped building with his own hands and strength. The song also signifies black resistance." [more at link below] Source

"Buffalo Soldier"

Buffalo soldier, dreadlocked rasta There was a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America Stolen from Africa, brought to America Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival I mean it, when I analyse the stench To me it makes a lot of sense How the dreadlocked rasta was a Buffalo Soldier And he was taken from Africa, brought to America Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival Said it was a Buffalo Soldier, dreadlocked rasta Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America If you know your history Then you would know where you're coming from Then you wouldn't have to ask me Who the heck do I think I am I'm just a Buffalo Soldier in the heart of America Stolen from Africa, brought to America Said he was fighting on arrival, fighting for survival Said he was a Buffalo Soldier, in the war for America Said he, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! Buffalo Soldier troddin' through the land, wo-ho-ooh! Said he wanna ran and then you want a hand Troddin' through the land, yea-hea, yea-ea Said he was a Buffalo Soldier in the war for America Buffalo Soldier, dreadlocked rasta Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival Driven from the mainland to the heart of the Caribbean Said he, woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy! Trodding through San Juan In the arms of America Trodding through Jamaica, a Buffalo Soldier Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock rasta Woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy Woy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy-yoy yoy!

For my Baha'i Arboretum friends:

Some of these soldiers were among our first national park rangers...

[from the Wikipedia article] In 1904, 9th Cavalrymen in Yosemite built an arboretum on the South Fork of the Merced River in the southern section of the park. This arboretum had pathways and benches, and some plants were identified in both English and Latin. Yosemite's arboretum is considered to be the first museum in the National Park System. The NPS cites a 1904 report, where Yosemite superintendent (Lt. Col.) John Bigelow, Jr. declared the arboretum "To provide a great museum of nature for the general public free of cost ..." Unfortunately, the forces of developers, miners, and greed cut the boundaries of Yosemite in 1905 and the arboretum was nearly destroyed.

What You Don’t Know About Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks - Sierra Club -Inside the movement to enhance this aspect of interpretive cultural history

Celebrating Black History Month

[from the article] "February is Black History Month, a time dedicated to celebrating and amplifying the essential contributions of Black people in the story of America, which so often get overlooked and under-recognized. National and local events and online celebrations will take place throughout the month to focus attention on Black people's achievements and history. Since 1976, the US has marked the contributions of Black people and celebrated the history and culture of the Black experience in America every February. Read on to learn more about Black History Month and the ways in which you can participate.

Honor and celebrate Black history this February by supporting Black businesses, educating yourself on Black history and more."

Includes: visiting museums, watching documentaries, movies, music, find Black authors and stories for yourself and your children

Includes: What do the Black History Month colors stand for?

"The official colors of Black History Month are black, red, yellow, and green, which symbolize unity and pride. The colors are derived from the Ethiopian flag and the Pan-African flag, which was created in 1920 to represent the unity of the African diaspora and Black liberation in the US.

'Red is the color of the blood which men must shed for their redemption and liberty; black is the color of the noble and distinguished race to which we belong; green is the color of the luxuriant vegetation of our Motherland,' according to the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

The color yellow, from the Ethiopian flag, symbolizes justice, optimism, and equality."

Further Study

There are many online articles and videos where you can learn more about this part of our history.

{from description] A photographic history of the two black cavalry regiments that served to keep peace on the frontier from 1867 to 1891. Also shown is the dedication ceremony at Fort Leavenworth of a monument to the Buffalo soldiers by sculptor Eddie Dixon, with speeches by Gen. Colin Powell and other high ranking black officers of the U.S. Armed Forces.

While not about the Buffalo Soldiers, these recent posts address racially-based disunity through the lenses of graphic and musical artists...

Inspired by the words & brush strokes of Jesse Kreuzer & musical guests, we take this post to the streets..."Do you hear the people sing.???

And now for something completely different: THE FACTS of how kings & Popes colluded to forcibly take the lands of our original inhabitants..


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