Retired Col. Dwayne Wagner, assistant professor at the US Army Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Fort Leavenworth, KS, spoke to a crowd of more than 50 people Wednesday evening, describing the racism he faced while serving in the army in the late 70s. He said remembering the legacy of the historic Buffalo Soldiers is what got him through those hard times.
Wagner recalled the inspiring role the Buffalo Soldiers played in his military career at a 155th anniversary celebration of the Army Reconstruction Act. The event was held at the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City’s 18th and Vine District. In 1866, shortly after the end of slavery, the Reconstruction Act created six military units for people of color in the United States Army: two cavalry (mounted) regiments, the 9th and 10th, and four infantry (foot) regiments, the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st.
The 9th and 10 calvary units would become known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
“They whispered in my ear and they said, ‘Lieutenant, not this battle. We need you to stay in the army and survive, so you can be promoted and leave,”’ Wagner said. “The descendants of the Buffalo Soldiers are also watching us to see if we are willing to act with absolute courage. Are we willing to give up something to make it better for other people?”
In 1966, 100 years after units were established, a national organization designed to ensure information about the exploits and accomplishments of the original black cavalrymen would not die with them, was established in Kansas City. Black WWII veterans James Alexander and James G. Madison created the national 9th and 10th Horse Calvary Association.
Today, there are more than a dozen chapters of the organization across the country including the original chapter the Greater Kansas City/Leavenworth area Buffalo Soldiers, which was later renamed to the Alexander/Madison chapter of Kansas City Area Buffalo Soldiers.
The Alexander/Madison chapter of Kansas City-area Buffalo Soldiers hosted the 155th anniversary celebration of the Army Reorganization Act. The event also celebrated the founding of their chapter, which was created in the Historic Jazz District.
At the celebration, Leavenworth Mayor Nancy Bauder also announced that July 28 is now Alexander/Madison chapter of Buffalo Soldiers 155th anniversary Day in the city.