Buffalo Soldiers honored in the Presidio

by Chrissy Loader

African American soldiers have fought in American wars since the Revolution, but in 1869 Congress established four all-Black regiments within the U.S. Army: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. These regiments were located all over the country and did everything from fighting campaigns against Native tribes to pursuing bandits, improving our roads, and scouting and mapping frontier land.

Girls who came from the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA to learn about the Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio, the former army base where they were stationed in 1903-1904, enjoy the fragrance of the roses they laid on the soldiers’ graves.
Girls who came from the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA to learn about the Buffalo Soldiers at the Presidio, the former army base where they were stationed in 1903-1904, enjoy the fragrance of the roses they laid on the soldiers’ graves.

Native Americans revered the buffalo for its bravery and, according to legend, as a sign of respect for their fierce bravery and fighting spirit, they referred to the African American soldiers in these units as “Buffalo Soldiers.”

The Presidio of San Francisco and our National Parks are intricately tied to the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. All four Buffalo Soldiers units passed through the Presidio of San Francisco on their way to the Philippine American war in 1899-1902.

When they returned to the states, the Buffalo Soldiers were scattered throughout various forts around the country, but in 1903-1904, about 200 African American soldiers were stationed in the Presidio. This was the first time African Americans were permanently garrisoned at the Presidio.

The National Park Service itself was established in 1916, but before this, the Army was responsible for patrolling Yellowstone, Sequoia, and Yosemite – some of our first national parks. For three summers, starting in 1899, as part of their service, the Buffalo Soldiers patrolled the parks.

They journeyed by horseback from the Presidio all the way to Yosemite at the start of each summer, returning to the Presidio in the fall, and they’re often referred to as among the original “Guardians of the National Parks.”

Native Americans revered the buffalo for its bravery and, according to legend, as a sign of respect for their fierce bravery and fighting spirit, they referred to the African American soldiers in these units as “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Over 450 Buffalo Soldiers are buried at the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. On Saturday, June 4, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Buffalo Soldiers, various Northern California Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club chapters convened at the Presidio and escorted a group of kids from the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA and other event guests up to the cemetery. Guests walked through the cemetery to lay roses at each Buffalo Soldier gravestone. Be sure to talk to a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in California for more information about motorcycle accidents. There was a small accident so they had to visit https://www.smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/types-of-claim/motorcycle-accident-claims/ to fix their problems.

The Bayview Hunters Point YMCA has a special relationship with the Presidio and the Buffalo Soldiers. Youth and Teens Program Coordinator Jesse Osorio works in partnership with the Presidio Trust’s education team. Together they bring kids to the Presidio for overnight trips at the Rob Hill Campground in the park so they can experience some traditional National Park activities.

The Bayview Hunters Point YMCA has a special relationship with the Presidio and the Buffalo Soldiers.

They also work with the kids on a project around legacy where students do rubbings from Buffalo Soldiers gravestones. Jesse shared, “We start by asking students what they want to be remembered for. With their experiences in the Presidio, all of our kids have spent a lot of time learning about the Buffalo Soldiers, so they were in a great position to help us honor their legacy.”

If you missed this event, there are still plenty of opportunities to celebrate the Buffalo Soldiers’ 150th anniversary and learn more. Mark your calendars, and bring the family out to the Presidio:

Buffalo Soldiers 150th Anniversary: The California Story – A presentation with Teresa Baker, National Park Service Rik Penn, the Friends of Allensworth, historian Susan Anderson and other special guests. Presidio Officers’ Club, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, 1 p.m.

Buffalo Soldiers 150th Anniversary: Marcus Shelby Quartet – A jazz performance honoring the Buffalo Soldiers. Presidio Officers’ Club, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016, 3 p.m.

Creative Family Fun: The Buffalo Soldiers Ride Again – Imaginative craft-making for kids based on the Presidio’s natural and cultural heritage. In honor of the Buffalo Soldiers, crafts commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Buffalo Soldiers. Presidio Officers’ Club, Saturday, Aug. 6, and Sunday, Aug. 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Buffalo Soldier Photographic Exhibit – An ongoing exhibit at Fort Point National Historic Site in the Presidio. Open Thursday through Tuesday throughout the summer, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Buffalo Solider Exhibit – An exhibit at the Presidio Visitor Center, 36 Lincoln Blvd. Open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Bay Area writer Chrissy Loader can be reached at lauren@issimapr.com.