Heritage, 2009, Volume 3 Page: 22
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The Buffalo Soldiers National Museum's Oral History Pro-
gram started in 2002 with the original intention of recording
the military experience of the last of the buffalo soldiers within
the museum's membership. Two years later the program ex-
panded to include veterans from the surrounding community
and is designed to capture their unique perspectives of life in
the armed forces from World War II through the Persian Gulf
War. Partnerships with Texas Southern University, for more
than six years, and with the University of Houston, begin-
ning in 2007, have further broadened the scope of the project.
At the University of Houston, students from the Jack Valenti
School of Communication plan, coordinate, and conduct oral
history interviews at the museum. At TSU, the BSNM Oral
History Program is part of the Department of English's out-
reach initiative; BSNM stages reenactments to illustrate the
African-American experience in the American western frontier.
With more than 200 interviews collected to date, the buffalo
soldier's oral history project is one way that the museum works
to preserve the history and contributions of the African-Amer-
Collectively, the buffalo soldiers have made their mark on
American military history since the unit's inception in 1866,
when Congress authorized the formation of six African-Ameri-
can army regiments. The soldiers of the 9th and 10th cavalry
and four infantry regiments-later reorganized into the 24th
and 25th-became the first African-Americans to serve in a
peacetime United States Army. Although Cheyenne warriors
bestowed the "buffalo soldiers" designation to the founding
members of the 10th cavalry in deference to their fierce fight-
ing abilities, the term later became a generic reference to the
soldiers serving in all four African-American regiments. The
military record of this group includes defending the United
States in conflicts at home and abroad, from the Indian Wars
through World War II, and serving the country during times of
peace in numerous capacities, such as building roads, establish-
ing and operating lumber mills, and patrolling national parks.
In the 1950s, the U.S. Army ended racial segregation and the
buffalo soldiers units were disbanded.
Interviews with the last of the official buffalo soldiers, WW
II veterans, are the centerpiece of the of BSNM's Oral History
Program. Captain Paul J. Matthews, founder and chairman of
the BSNM, says that these men and women have given tes-
timony to the conflicting experience of fighting for freedom
around the world while serving in a segregated army at home.
They give a first-hand account of battle victories in Europe
and the eventual triumph over racism at home. He adds, "The
troops that returned from Europe during WWII were the foot
soldiers in the modern-day civil rights movement."
Because of the BSNM, UH, and TSU oral history collabora-
tion, an untold chapter in American history is now available to
the world. Find out more about the BSNM at 713-942-8920
or www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com.-Pam Murtha
Although Cheyenne warriors be-
stowed the "buffalo soldiers" desig-
nation to the founding members of
the 10th cavalry in deference to their
fierce fighting abilities, the term later
became a generic reference to the sol-
diers serving in all four African-Amer-
ican regiments. The military record
of this group includes defending the
United States in conflicts at home and
abroad, from the Indian Wars through
World War II, and serving the country
during times of peace...
HERITA GE Volume 3 2009
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 3, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254214/m1/22/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.